Though He Was Never Here, Alex Cameron Is Making a “Comeback”
Finally seeing wide release after years of tremulous underground currents, Jumping the Shark is a schizophrenic how-do-you-do from a crazily put-together artist.
There’s an inherent sarcasm in the title of Jumping the Shark, Alex Cameron’s debut album. How can someone jump the shark before they’ve even turned on the jukebox in the first place? What would that look like? Well, probably like the work of someone completely off their rocker, for starters (which could very well be the case with Cameron and his musical “business partner” Roy Molloy, let’s just be clear), but this music is less about asylum lunacy and more about everyday psychopaths—a visit to the bitter end of the road that we could all end up at if we were to take a wrong turn.
Though Jumping the Shark initially popped up via independent release as far back as 2013, what we’ve officially seen and heard from the freshly minted Secretly Canadian signee to date is this: three different minimalist synth-pop songs representing three different types of narrators—each of whom represent three different types of darkness. “She’s Mine,” maybe the most disturbing song of the batch—and not exactly the type of “single” you’d expect to hear…pretty much ever—features a refrain of “It’s just water / Taste it.” Yeah, it probably means exactly what you’re thinking. “Take Care of Business,” a slightly more ambiguous (though no less disturbing) tune, sets the stage for what appears to be an unhealthy relationship festering into some sort of murderous plot. Key line: “I ain’t half the man I wanted to be.” Like, literally half the person he wanted to be—before he was, you know, attacked with an axe.
At least, that’s the story that I see in my head when listening to the song. Consider the music of Jumping the Shark to be a Rorschach test for the seedier landscapes in your peripherals. It’s a Christmas Carol tour of the lives of people that you try not to pay attention to. Playback of a sad movie at a funny speed. And if you think all this sounds a little serious, know that there is humor here—just visit Cameron’s website if you don’t believe me on that one. Thing is, the only approach more upsetting than talking about the sick and desperate is to pretend like they aren’t there at all.
But where the initial singles are more twisted than anything else, the just-released third single from the album, “The Comeback,” is the true heartbreaker. Telling something of a television-era Marie Prevost story, we’re presented with a washed-up entertainer (a former variety show host, perhaps?) pushed to the limits of obscurity. Even as he seems to give up, though, you can’t help but think about how at least this dude committed to throwing in the towel without doing what he would’ve resented doing the most: jumping the shark. Which, naturally, was the cue for Cameron to take on that task for him.