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The Hidden Cameras 

Awoo (Arts & Crafts)

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While it's tempting to compare the Hidden Cameras' Joel Gibb with other literate gay singer-songwriters, if Rufus Wainwright or Stephin Merritt were to sing about the joys of anal penetration or swallowing urine, it would be nothing short of hilarious. When Gibb does it, though, it's barely even ironic; rather, it makes for joyfully earnest pop that he calls "gay church folk music." But now, with the coffee-spraying moments on the Cameras' third album confined to the self-evident "Lollipop," Gibb sounds ready to cross over — not just into the heterosphere, but into the realm of people who take their smut and pop music on separate plates. His voice is as fluid as that of the Beautiful South's Paul Heaton, and his clean lyrics include a powerfully straightforward eulogy and an equally evocative and mysterious Dylan-esque allegory. The band itself, a rotating cast from Toronto's rock scene, stirs musical theater together with Phil Spector and the Smiths, as well as influences that no other indie band has picked up (Everly Brothers, Afro pop), resulting in something that's plenty sticky without references to golden showers and seminal fluid. — Andrew Marcus

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