ALEX CAMERON Oxy Music gets 6.5/10

Alex Cameron
Oxy Music
Secretly Canadian


Alex Cameron is a cornerstone in a crew of merry rock pranksters (Kirin J Callinan, Donny Benet, Jack Ladder to name a few) that have carved their own niche in Australian rock. If Kirin J Callinan is subversive and unpredictable and Benet is over-the-top and loveable, Cameron’s solo projects sit somewhere in between. Combine Benet’s genre fascinations (albeit swap disco for heartland rock) and Callinan’s incisive social commentary and you have Alex Cameron. His latest Oxy Music shows that he hasn’t lost any of his bark, but maybe a little bite.

Cameron’s last few efforts have felt like loose concept albums. Embracing Callinan’s incisive criticisms of toxic masculinity, 2017’s Forced Witness was a view of the world through the lens of a misogynistic doofus. His formula set, Cameron branched out to seedy inner city suburban sketches with the stellar Miami Memory from 2019.

Oxy Music is more obvious – an album largely concerned with (you guessed it) drugs and their impacts. It’s also a decidedly more lightweight album, with more synth, chintzier production and happier melodies. It serves as a vehicle for Cameron’s most consistently catchy set of tunes to date, but the message muddied along the way.

This is most obvious on Cancel Culture, a silly rap/rock hybrid that is intentionally tone-deaf in its treatment of modern PC culture, preferring to make silly puns rather than comment (“All we can do is cancel culture…”). It may be cute but it’s well-worn territory, and doesn’t compensate for its lack of a message with any particularly memorable imagery or storytelling. Similar case for opener Best Life, which is a rather tired pisstake of internet warriors, and Prescription Refill which digs from the “horny creeper” well for the umpteenth time.

Cameron hits a stride when the cheekiness is dropped in favour of good old fashioned storytelling, as in the charming family solidarity of Sara Jo or the imploding cokehead meanderings of Hold the Line (“They’re telling me to hold the line, year/ But these lines have got a hold on me”).

The album may be conceptually thin but the words are wrapped up in some of Cameron’s better tunes to date. It’s difficult to delineate the different hooks, but Best Life, Sara Jo, Prescription Refill, Hold The Line, Breakdown and K Hole form a remarkable run of hooks. It’s only on the failed experiments of Cancel Culture that the album truly falls down. Final track Oxy Music is a bit flat also, with limp instrumentation and a hook that’s been worn thin by this stage, despite the best efforts of guest vocalist Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods fame.

Oxy Music sees Alex Cameron truly settle into his groove, for better or worse. It’s an album which unfortunately sees his schtick wearing thin despite delivering some of his most catchy songwriting to date. Newer fans would be advised to start here and be converted, but those seeking something new and cohesive may be disappointed.


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