music

Alex Cameron—‘Miami Memory’ Album Review

November 17, 2019

Will Minack

On his latest album, Miami Memory, Alex Cameron sheds his skin. It’s an intimate portrayal of a modern-day relationship, and asserts his place as one of the decade’s sharpest songwriters.

Up to this point in his career, Alex Cameron has maintained a dedicated character act. While the sun-drenched soft rock of Forced Witness was a sonic transformation from the dark, droning synths of Jumping the Shark, both records featured a recurring cast of sleazy, sordid and problematic men. Sung from the perspectives of failed night-show hosts to seedy internet prowlers, these portraits inflated the most grotesque elements of modern masculinity, only to make them easier targets to shoot down.

On Miami Memory, Cameron drops the facade. The voice of the record is unequivocally his own, energized by new-found notions of honesty, sincerity and loyal affection. Cameron admitted to the Guardian that the record is an open letter to his long-term partner, Girls actress Jemima Kirke. Whilst touring his previous album, Forced Witness, he told The Needle Drop that he wanted to write a record of “natural” love songs, admitting that it’s a “tough skill”. On Miami Memory, however, Cameron proves that it is a skill he’s well-equipped with.

The title track of the record is an early highlight and immediately establishes Cameron’s new voice—and this new era—of his music. It’s a sweeping ballad, dedicated to the geographical bedrock of his flourishing love life. Here, Cameron reminisces upon the mundane yet pivotal moments of his relationship with penetrating candour. “Eating your ass like an oyster / the way you came like a tsunami / I love you strong like a city in Miami Memory”, Cameron croons over producer Jonathan Rado’s soaring instrumentation.

Music video for Miami Memory, which Cameron directed himself

Yet, Cameron doesn’t shy away from the turbulence which often accompanies a relationship running at full throttle. ‘Divorce’ is a roaring example which illuminates the obstacles and oscillations of his burgeoning love life. Doing his best Springsteen impression, “I’ve got friends in Kansas City with a mother-fucken futton couch / if that’s how you wanna play it”, Cameron spits in a glorious self-own.

Thankfully, Miami Memory retains the trademark wit which featured heavily on his previous albums. Even the most brutally personal moments are infused with hilarity: “there’s a guy who thinks I’m fucking his girlfriend / he says he’s gonna make me cry / but I couldn’t get it up if I wanted to/ man, yeah and I already wanna die he sings on ‘End is Nigh’. It’s the fine balance between acute satire and unflinching vulnerability which sets Miami Memory apart from anything Alex Cameron has done before.

The penultimate track, ‘Other Ladies’, is perhaps Cameron’s most grandiose work to date. It showcases a lung-busting vocal performance that builds into an immense testament to his love. In an age of unprecedented sexual liberation and exploration—exemplified in the earlier track and ode to sex workers ‘Far from Born Again’—Cameron commits to monogamy. 

Cameron with partner Jemima Kirke. Ali Smith / The Guardian.

On Miami Memory, Alex Cameron empties out the wardrobe of elaborate costumes he spent years crafting across his first two albums. In place of these characters, Cameron steps into the spotlight as himself, showcasing a skilled ability to write songs with naked sincerity.