The Hidden Cameras had yet to release a note of commercially available music when, in early 2002, they became among the most discussed and celebrated unsigned bands in the history of their native Toronto. At the close of the year, they had been the subject of uncommonly sensational features in The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) as well as in every daily and weekly in Toronto.
The reasons for the reckless enthusiasm of these usually cautious journals are simple: revelatory live performances that attack and transcend the staid, dispassionate traditions of rock nightclub culture; and the songs of band front-man and mastermind Joel Gibb, a talent of uncommon melodic and poetic gifts. “The Hidden Cameras aren’t famous,” wrote the Toronto Star in July, “but if you believe the buzz, it’s only a matter of time.”
Now, shortly after becoming the first Canadian band to be signed by Rough Trade in the label’s 25-year history, The Hidden Cameras have delivered The Smell of Our Own, surely – and without hyperbolic padding – one of the most enthralling and individual debut albums to come from anywhere in years. The Smell of Our Own is an all-too-rare type of debut – the type that sounds as if it was conceived in its own aesthetic universe, its worldview and core sound already whole. But at the same time, it suggests that The Hidden Cameras are only beginning to evolve.