Jumping the Shark
Sydney songwriter Alex Cameron refers to his debut album, Jumping the Shark, as “a collection of four-minute stories written to provide you with insight into the inner workings of failed ambitions.” It’s morbidly fascinating and full of repulsive characters. In “Real Bad Lookin’,” we meet “the drunkest, ugliest girl at the bar” and “the dumbest, richest guy at the bar.” She asks, “Who the hell are you to tell me that I can’t leave my kid in the car?” He says, “I make so much money, I swear I never get any older.”
Despite its release on Secretly Canadian, Jumping the Shark is hardly new; the album has been floating around online for a few years already. It’s more than a bit reminiscent of American Psycho. The ’80s cues are there. The desperate self-preservation is there. There’s blood, and there’s an axe. The satire is pitch perfect—and we need it to be mostly satire, just like we need to believe there’s no way that the most vile parts of Patrick Bateman were based on anything real.
In the video for “The Comeback,” Cameron is onstage in a small theater, rows of empty seats in front of him. “You been in show biz long enough, you get a grip on how things work,” he sings, in a suit jacket and pants, to no one. “You need to wait your turn,” he sings. “Wait your turn like me.” On the velvet curtain behind him is a hashtag in lights, #ALKCM, which has been used by exactly one Twitter user to date (aside from Cameron himself). The whole thing looks and sounds like the Nick Cave soundtrack to a David Lynch movie. The music is spare synth-pop, like set dressing for the scenes and characters. The percussion sounds industrial. Everything echoes because no one’s around.
Jumping the Shark is simultaneously alluring and repulsive. You don’t want to get too close to it, but you definitely want to see what’s going on, which means that Cameron’s universe of lowlifes and hangers-on is the real deal. It might as well have a watermark.