Alex Cameron, “Miami Memory”
Well, it’s finally happened. Australian musician Alex Cameron—who’s spent two albums examining despicable male characters with the goal of exposing them for the low-lifes that they are—is using his third record, Miami Memory, to spotlight and elevate women. He’s been in a relationship with artist and actress Jemima Kirke for a while, and he’s said this new project is a gift to her. So is this it? Are we at long last seeing Alex for Alex?
Cameron has been around long enough that we know what to expect, generally speaking, but we also know to expect the unexpected. The shitty men of albums past do make a cameo; “Bad for the Boys” is a roundup of what actually happens when the boys are all back in town: “Now you’re living little lives without women and blaming them for all the change / You thought the boys were supposed to stay the same, but no one cares about the good old days.” Cameron is joined by his ride-or-die, Roy Molloy, on saxophone, as well as frequent collaborators Holiday Sidewinder on vocals, Jack Ladder on guitar and bass, and producer Jonathan Rado. Where Cameron’s last album, 2017’s excellent Forced Witness, was heavy on the up-tempo synth, this one is all about the ’70s callbacks, with barroom piano and lots of organ. Cameron’s voice soars on these songs more than ever before.
Over the course of ten tracks, Miami Memory holds the mirror up to the shared specifics of relationships—Cameron’s and Kirke’s, as well as ours as listeners, for better and for worse. We can hear ourselves yelling, “I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfuckin’ futon couch, if that’s how you wanna play it,” as he does on “Divorce,” a standout track that’s a sort of bizarro version of Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks.” We can relate to his song for Kirke’s kids, “Stepdad,” where he tells them, “Don’t forget what I told you about your demons / They’re just thoughts in your head while you sleep.”
It looks like we’re at 100 percent authentic Alex Cameron, and Miami Memory—a sort of Portrait of the Artist as Someone Else’s Man—finds him reaching new heights, raising the bar for himself, not content to tread familiar ground. The album is as much a gift to his fans as it is to Kirke.