Published Sep 22, 2009While the Hidden Cameras' last record didn't translate critical acclaim into mainstream acceptance, the Toronto, ON-based collective are certainly not resting on their laurels. Though the band may have reached a relative glass ceiling of success, their creativity continues to know no bounds. The church revival quality of their music remains but Joel Gibb and company have added synthesizers and guitar loops to the mix, giving these 11 tracks a fun dance vibe that will almost certainly be exploited in the group's legendary live shows. Rave-ups like lead single "In the NA" and "Underage" sit next to more brooding and ominous tracks like "Ratifying The New," but the album's centrepiece is the slinking "Walk On," which is bursting with instrumentation. In a rare moment of recorded despair from a group better known for joyous sing-alongs, Gibb has crafted the sonic equivalent of someone's life unravelling before their eyes. It's a testament to his vision that with a revolving cast of musicians and a constant desire to shake up the formula each record sounds fresh without sacrificing the band's trademark hooks and harmonies.
What kind of sound were you trying to achieve with the new album?
Gibb: I don't know if there's a specific sound you could connect to the whole record; I just wanted to try different things with different songs and hopefully still retain a thread that ties everything together. The last record was a little bit more traditional ― drums, bass, guitar. The strings were sparingly used, there were no horns, not so many weird instruments. But with this record there's more keyboard, there's much more horns, there are different styles of violin playing.
Has living in Berlin influenced your music?
I don't know how to qualify that kind of thing. Undoubtedly, yes, but I wouldn't know how to get into specifics. I think most of these songs were written in Canada.
With the band a collective scattered all over the place how do you write?
For me, songwriting is a solitary process. I bring bits and pieces to the musicians. Depending on what the song needs, I'll ask different musicians to play, but there's no formula. Each song creates its own formula.
But you have an idea of how the end product will sound?
I hear the whole thing in my head most of the time. Recording is just a matter of realizing that.
Is the finished product reflective of what you hear?
Sometimes. And then sometimes it turns into something different when you have to take into consideration the realities of recording. (Arts & Crafts)