Monday, July 8, 2013

First Impressions: AWOO by The Hidden Cameras

First impressions may not be everything, but they're certainly important. This week, I'm listening to three recent purchases for the first time, and blogging my initial thoughts, track-by-track. I'm starting with AWOO by The Hidden Cameras; let's jump in...
  1. Death of a Tune
    Okay, so I've actually heard this one before. I wouldn't have bought this album if I didn't like Death of a Tune and the title track so much, although I am a little worried that this will turn out to be one of those records that starts out awesome and then gets really dull. I guess we'll see, eh?

  2. AWOO
    Again, I don't really have a first impression to share on this one because I already knew it. It's still damn good though, if not quite as good as track one.

  3. She's Gone
    Okay, here's where the real test begins. Is this a good album, or just a crap one that's hiding behind a couple of happy accidents? She's Gone certainly bodes well, with a good flow and some nice, Eastern-sounding strings in the background. As simple as it makes me sound, I especially like the bit where he sings the name of the song. The breakdown at the end is pretty cool, too.

  4. Lollipop
    Ooh, bit faster, this one. The stabby strings are great, although goodness knows what he's yelping over the top. It's just frantic, monosyllabic nonsense: HEY! SAY! THIS! WHAT! HAM! SHOP! ICE! FLAPS!

  5. Fee Fie
    We all need to calm down a bit after Lollipop, so here's a softer one. It's pleasant, and a good showcase for this guy's voice, but it's certainly not as engaging as anything from that opening quad. A grower, maybe?

  6. Learning The Lie
    Tense, scary movie strings...and then, a reassuring, jangly guitar. He likes his wordless choruses, doesn't he? It's like he writes all these amazing melodies and then can't be bothered to add any words. It still sounds wonderful, though.

  7. Follow These Eyes
    The strings are doing most of the work on this one. It's very intricate and brooding and all that, but I don't think it's as interesting as the preceding stuff. Which is a shame because it's somewhat longer than any of the first six tracks.

  8. Heji
    What does 'heji' mean? Is it the name of this annoyingly clangy percussion instrument at the start? Things get better when the rest of the band comes in, but it's still pretty stop-start. I don't think this is going to have any vocals, is it? Aside from the guy shouting "HUT!" every so often. Let's wait and see...nope, we've got some oohs and some aahs but not much else. Basically a tense instrumental interlude, then, with a man hitting a saucepan in the middle of it all.

  9. Heaven Turns To
    That gentle caress of an intro is doing a lot to soothe the headache the last track gave me. This song is nice enough, but it doesn't feel like a highlight...although I reckon I'll catch myself absent-mindedly singing "heaveen...turns to heaveeen" in an hour or so. I like the big string 'n' vocal swells, too. The strings really do carry a lot of this record, huh?

  10. Wandering
    Nice transition from the last song. Another gentle, slow-ish one; these songs sound lovely (especially the piano, and the singing! I'm so in love with his voice) but we could really use another Lollipop or Death of a Tune to kick the album into a high gear as we head towards the final stretch.

  11. For Fun
    That string intro makes for slightly uneasy listening. I hope this isn't going to be like that Animal Collective song that makes you feel like you're going to throw up. Ah, there we are, the strings have stopped, and we've got a hard-hitting little verse instead. Another chorus with no actual lyrics - just tuneful cooing. That teetering string bit does come back, by the way, but it sounds better this time, victorious rather than nauseous. He's really giving the vocals some welly here, too. I've decided I really like this one...although it's probably longer than it needs to be.

  12. Hump From Bending
    Heh, 'hump'. Lol, 'bending'. Like a few of these songs, it starts off sounding all dramatic, and then when it actually starts properly, it becomes quite jolly. This isn't quite as quick as tracks 1 and 4, but it is pretty fast-paced, which is good because it stops the album from feeling like it's getting bogged down towards the end. I think I've resigned myself to the wordless singing now. Those parts might actually be my favourites.

  13. The Waning Moon
    Ah, it's a moon song! I'd heard that THC were kind of like The Magnetic Fields, and while I haven't really been hearing it thus far, the presence of a song with 'moon' in the title does kind of seal it. This sounds like a sort of inverted version of the title track, although it's missing the killer hook. Bit of a weak ending, actually.
While this definitely wasn't "crap" by any stretch of the imagination, the songs weren't quite as immediate as I'd hoped. I wanted a baker's dozen of instant indiepop classics, and I got some semi-orchestral songs that were indeed big on melody (yay!) but also a little more complex than I'd expected. I suspect it will grow on me rather dramatically given a few more listens, but for now, only modified rapture.

Come back on Wednesday to find out what I make of Tallahassee by The Mountain Goats (or, now that it's the future, you can just click here).

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