The Hidden Cameras Awoo

Anyone who’s seen the Hidden Cameras in the last year will know that main Cameraman Joel Gibb has transformed the band into a lean, mean rock’n’roll machine. On the surface, little has changed on this, the band’s fourth album. Gibb still has a knack for re-writing the same four-chord folk formula a dozen different ways, each enchanting melody strong enough to separate itself from the pack. Occasionally, however, he’s confident enough to eschew melody altogether; "Heji” is a hiccup-y instrumental where Gibb works out his new fascination with stop-start rhythms, which add a punchier dynamic to several of Awoo’s rock songs. There’s no less love for the lush, though this time even the ballads have more balls, particularly the pizzicato-driven "Follow These Eyes.” "Wandering” is a prom-style slow song that recalls "Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, which an early incarnation of the band used to cover in their live set. Though it’s still hard to top the gorgeous innocence heard on 2002’s The Smell Of Our Own, Awoo is an equally impressive achievement: streamlining the band’s instrumental strengths, balancing the giddy pop with the Sunday morning folk, and proving that there’s still a lot of life in a band that many dismissed as a one-trick pony. (Evil Evil)