On paper, it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. A big, gay Belle & Sebastian meets Polyphonic Spree meets a church choir. On CD, however, it all comes together. Confused? Don't be. It's just 2003's latest revelation, The Hidden Cameras. This 14-piece from Toronto, who describe themselves as "gay folk church music," may be arriving at just the right time. The Smell Of Our Own is actually the second release by this collection of Canadian tweakers, but the first (and first Canadian signing) for Rough Trade. Combining, as was previously mentioned, the fey pop of Belle & Sebastian with lush arrangements, choral backing and orchestral instrumentation, this ensemble produce timeless pop that would sound right coming any time after 1965. Except with song titles like "Golden Streams," "Ban Marriage" (about gay marriage), and "The Man That I Am With My Man" and frontman Joel Gibb's campy lyrics discussing a world of golden showers and other assorted and sundry items not usually aired in pop tunes, it's not your every year pop album. But it should be. It's a brilliant summery orchestral pop explosion and one sure to put a smile upon your face at first listen.
JEREMY P. GOLDSTEIN