- 16 Mar 22
Subversive lounger pop waxes weird and eerie
A dapper dude with a heavy heart, Sydney-raised Alex Cameron is part of an Antipodean tradition of pop outsiders extending back to The Go Betweens, The Triffids and The Tall Dwarfs’ Chris Knox. The shtick with Cameron is that he wears his heart on his sleeve, even while nudging you in the ribs. In-jokes and faked emotions were certainly front of centre on his first two records, wherein he variously embraced the alter-ego of washed-out entertainer and sleazy lounge-lizard.
With Oxy Music, though, he seems to be playing it for real. Couched in vaporous ’80s synths and melodies that walk on tippy-toe, Cameron spills his heart out in great messy chunks. As saxophones parp mournfully, he observes on ‘Sara Jo’ that, “I’ve never hurt nobody… not in any physical way… and when I do they will/ have wanted it that way.”
So there’s darkness folded in amidst the glitter, especially as he declares, in the next line that “The one thing you never do… is fuck with my family.” It’s like being at a disco and slowly realising that every song the DJ is playing is about death, despair and the crushing of all hope. And yet, you keep dancing away.
That balancing act – bottomless despondency orbiting rhinestone pop – continues on ‘Cancel Culture’, a slow-jam featuring Virginia Beach rapper Lloyd Vines. “I didn’t mean to insult ya,” goes a lilting chorus. “Only thing left to do is cancel culture.”
This is a disorienting record, with Cameron crouched at its centre, a slick, grinning figure with lifetimes of horror behind his eyes. If it is the singer’s goal to put the “unease” into easy listening, he has succeeded effortlessly.