Music Reviews
Miami Memory

Alex Cameron Miami Memory

(Secretly Canadian) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Alex Cameron has been many people through his music: a studmuffin who preys upon underaged girls, an insecure homophobe, and a homeless man who has just woken up from a wet dream, among others. What makes these characters work is how he’s mocking these terrible people while expressing empathy to how they became who they are. Because of that, there’s something daunting about a sincere Alex Cameron record, but the lead single and title track off of his new album, Miami Memory, announces just that. It’s got typical Cameron-esque eccentrics (“Eating your ass like an oyster, you came like a tsunami”), but there’s a core of love and care coming from a man who once wrote the line “I got shat on by an eagle baby,..” And it works: Cameron is still an entertaining narrator, and his knack for melodies continues to be strong. By stripping away the ickiest qualities of his music, he may have strengthened his appeal.

Miami Memory is a love letter to Cameron’s girlfriend of three years, actress Jemima Kirke, but the strangeness of his writing is still intact. Somehow the opening song is called Stepdad, and still manages to be a funny, odd, and charming tale of finding yourself in an unexpected father role. It’s not a subject that plenty of people can relate to, but Alex still pulls it off with the backing of bright synths and light piano hits. The instrumentation across the board is surprisingly more sharp and exciting than Forced Witness. There’s real melancholy on a track like End is Nigh, where a nice touch of acoustic guitar matches an electric piano perfectly. The track climaxes with a Killers-esque bridge: “I’m still drunk,” Alex announces with sad gusto, making it an easy highlight.

The 70s soft rock inspirations hit the hardest on two of the most interesting cuts here, Far From Born Again and Bad for the Boys. The two tracks combine a jaunty, easy-listening sheen, with lyrics in the former that discuss sex work positively, and in the latter, that talk about the reckoning of abusive men. When you think of soft-rock, you think of mustaches and dad-like cheesiness, which makes it even better that such lush instrumentation has a topic like systems of abuse that soft-rock men may have perpetrated. It’s somewhat satisfying when Cameron sings “Handsome Corey with his high school glory, no one wants to hear those fucking stories” for easily discernible reasons. 

The peak and essence of the record is Divorce, an upbeat bop about what Cameron feels when he’s fighting with his muse. In an interview with GQ, he called the song a list of things that run through his head when he starts bickering with his girlfriend. But thankfully, the song isn’t one that replicates the sad-sack nature of the lyrics. The production is clean and pretty, while the instrumentation pops with pianos and glockenspiel. Cameron describes many funny details (“Motherfucking futon couch”), but they only emphasize how sad he’d be without this woman. It’s the moment on Miami Memory that cements two things: Alex is truly in love, and the record is one of the best of the year.