Music

Kamera: Resurrection

Kamera is as pure a retro throwback as you may ever find.


Kamera

Resurrection

Label: Nettwerk
US Release Date: 2008-02-05
UK Release Date: 2007-03-05
Amazon
iTunes

How do you praise something that is as patently derivative as Kamera's Resurrection? Pop Resurrection into your CD player and you'll hear shades of New Order, Information Society, the Cure, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode, and just about every other band that had a keyboard and an excess of black eyeliner in the '80s. While it's true that you don't necessarily need innovation in order to create great music, can it possibly help matters if the creation process adheres strictly to some template of what serious '80s synth-pop once was?

Sure, bands like the Killers and Franz Ferdinand have opened up the floodgates for this sort of thing, with their backward looking synth work, dance beats, and frontmen putting on their best big important voices, but choices in production, instrumentation, and lyricism identify the modern retro as distinctly a product of the 2000s. Kamera, on the other hand, wield no such indicators; it is truly retro, in that it legitimately sounds as though it could have come from the era that it is emulating. That by itself is an achievement of sorts, and will test the level of '80s devotion that those lovers of modern retro-chic are willing to embrace.

Example: "TV Lights" is a highly danceable bit of dark pop music with lots of bell and string synths, a prominent slap bassline, and Joakim Hjelm's distinctive (as in, he sounds like he might actually be holding his nose the whole time he sings) vocals. This is all well and good, since words like "Shine on / We knock the radio out / Shine on / Know what we're talking about / Shine on / Make sure the truth won't come out" are generic enough to not distract from the overall picture, and it gets a decent little groove going over the course of its four-and-a-half minutes.

And then, you realize that it sounds almost as much like Hall & Oates as it does Love & Rockets, and your will is tested.

This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with Hall & Oates, necessarily. It's more a matter of the fact that the image Kamera is portraying via the use of high-contrast black and white with bright green accents in its album art, on its website, and on its MySpace, is one of the artsy, tortured brand of synthpopper band. While the music does occasionally live up to the standard set by such an image, it's usually too far on the "pop" side of synthpop to truly satisfy someone looking for the depth and the style of the most lasting products of the '80s synth explosion.

All of that said, a few of these songs really could have been huge hits, in that they have a knack for earworming their way through your skull and lodging themselves in your brain until you've sung them to yourself enough times to be declared legally insane. The devious little back-to-back duo of "Borderline" (not a cover of the Madonna song, sadly) and "Like a Drug" is tuneful, danceable, and repetitive in all the right ways. If you're not singing "I wanna run down the borderline...with YOUUUUU / Oowooo ooo oooowooo oo oooo" after you've heard "Borderline" twice, you may never, ever have a song stuck in your head. Congratulations. "Fragile" is the best club track on the album, practically crying out for glowsticks and big hair, and "I'm Gonna Be Your Lover" is a fantastic little example of treading the obsession/devotion line in art-pop-ballad form.

Songs like those mentioned prove that Kamera has the chops to be a fantastic '80s throwback band, but most of the rest of Resurrection just isn't catchy, or danceable, or memorable enough to make an impact. If you really, really miss the '80s, maybe Kamera is your bag; buy the album, however, and you may just realize you don't miss the decade quite as much as you thought.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Film

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Julian Barratt and Oliver Maltman (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image