Bearing witness to the baroque clusterf*ckery of the world is no longer voluntary. We are all forced to watch. Every possible catastrophe vibrates in our pockets, demanding to be witnessed. In his second album,Forced Witness,outSeptember 8thonSecretly Canadian, Alex Cameron’s solution to the difficulties we face is a danceable and dangerous earnestness, a sense of honesty that heals and relieves even as it cleaves us or makes us laugh in self-defense. He’s offering us vivid portraits of misfits who look at the world without illusion.
Recorded in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas and produced by Cameron along withFoxygen’s Jonathan Rado, these tracks at first seem shamelessly entertaining, the driving rhythms and rousing melodies embellished at every turn byRoy Molloy’s warm hornwork. But the love songs and anthems of personal resilience contain as much raw humanity as they do a savvy grasp of the impossible loneliness of the times, especially apparent in the song, “Stranger’s Kiss”— Cameron’s affecting duet withAngel Olsen(who also sings backup on lead single,“Candy May”). The defiantly bloody knuckles in“Runnin’ Outta Luck,”co-written by and featuringBrandon Flowers, and the grime of wet dreams in“Country Figs”occupy the same space as the great sadness of the internet in the catchy and contemplative song“True Lies,”in which Cameron sings about that buzzing hive of randomized sexuality where we can either submit to the stirrings in our own laps or let our fragile hopes catfish us. Penultimate track“Marlon Brando,”is, as Cameron describes it, “a study of a man in the hopeless pursuit of a woman. He is a familiar character in the world, a self-assured jock, a dullard, a low grade human who uses a specific kind of language when he finds a situation outside of his control. The song’s lyrics present a damning indictment of homophobia and misogyny and their genesis in toxic masculinity.”
If there is darkness in these songs, it is not because taboos can titillate but because Cameron knows that confession has a redeeming power and that people are often at their most startlingly beautiful when their skies have fallen. These songs are alive with the rich detail of life lived and the radical distinctiveness of the stories they tell feel universal. In these chaotic times when we aren’t able to look away, Cameron is offering us a pure account of the world as he’s seen it.
Watch the video for “Candy May,” directed byMeghan McGarry.As she describes it, “Candy May is a visual, gut-wrenching longing, seeping out through the skin with a swagger that is distinctively Alex Cameron.”
Forced WitnessTracklisting: 1. Candy May 2. Country Figs 3. Runnin’ Outta Luck 4. Stranger’s Kiss (Duet with Angel Olsen) 5. True Lies 6. Studmuffin96 7. The Chihuahua 8. The Hacienda 9. Marlon Brando 10. Politics Of Love
Alex Cameron Tour Dates: Fri. June 30 – Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival Sat. July 8 – London, UK @ BST Summer Time Fri. July 14 – Dour, BE @ Dour Festival Sat. July 15 – Tonsberg, NO @ Slottsfjell Festival Mon. July 31 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium # Tue. Aug. 1 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall # Fri. – Sun. Aug. 4-6 – Happy Valley, OR @ Pickathon Thu. Aug. 17 – Saint Malo, FR @ Route du Rock La Nouvelle Vague Sat. Aug. 19 – Paredes de Coura, PT @ Paredes de Coura Wed. Aug. 23 – Berlin, DE @ Pop Kultur Thu. Aug. 24 – Luxembourg, LU @ Rotondes Fri. Aug. 25 – Antwerp, BE @ Het Bos Sat. Aug. 26 – Leeds, UK @ This Must Be the Place Festival Sun. Aug. 27 – Liverpool, UK @ The Shipping Forecast Mon. Aug. 28 – Bristol, UK @ Louisiana, Bristol Tue. Aug. 29 – Newcastle, UK @ The Academy ^ Wed. Aug. 30 – Edinburgh, UK @ Usher Hall ^ Thu. Aug. 31 – London, UK @ The Lexington –SOLD OUT Sun. Sep. 3 – Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival Tue. Sep. 19 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar Thu. Sep. 21 – Austin, TX @ The Sidewinder Fri. Sep. 22 – Dallas, TX @ Double Wide Bar Sat. Sep. 23 – New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar Tue. Sep. 26 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups Thu. Sep. 28 – Chicago, IL @ The Hideout Fri. Sep. 29 – Bloomington, IN @ Blockhouse Bar Sat. Sep. 30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe Mon. Oct. 2 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd DC Tue. Oct. 3 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s Thu. Oct. 5 – Montreal, QC @ Brasserie Beaubien Fri. Oct. 6 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs Sat. Oct. 7 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC Thu. Dec. 5 – London, UK @ Scala