Here’s a very relevant and very simple launch point for this review: there is a difference between dream pop and shoegaze. This is news to me, because for a long time, I would have had no problem lumping the two genres together in the way that people seemingly lump indie and emo. I look at it like this: Nothing is a shoegaze band, Whirr is a shoegaze band, Camera Shy is a dream pop band. What separates dream pop from shoegaze can be boiled down to one very subtle difference; dream pop feels more ephemeral and, for lack of a better word, dreamy than it does atmospheric. The songs are hazy and fleeting, but earworm their way into your head without much effort.
Friends, this is a genre summation that is also an apt description of Camera Shy’s self-titled, debut album. The record opens up with “Remember” which has almost all of the makings of an eighties pop classic. Thankfully, Camera Shy opted out of a super obnoxious synth. The vocals are sweet and plaintive perfection. I usually find myself waiting for that vicarious catharsis through vocal delivery, but I found myself just fine without it when listening to “Remember,” and that sentiment remains the same for the majority of the songs on ‘Camera Shy.’
The first of two true high points of pop influence bleed-through come pretty early in the tracklisting. “Your Only One” is the second song on the album, and is arguably a pop song big enough to rival “Lovefool” by The Cardigans. It’s got a dreamy sense of melancholy to it, and although it lacks a lot of the repetition that makes for a huge pop song, I could see “Your Only One” as a pop wildcard in the very same vein of songs like “Lovefool” and “Kiss Me.”
“Colors Radiate” has one of the coolest sounding riffs on the record. I keep coming back to the track for that riff alone. I don’t want to downplay the song when I say this, but it makes for one of the best background listens that I’ve heard. It’s a song that doesn’t have a single offensive bit to it. I find myself naturally bobbing my head along to it. Not a heavy kind of head bob, but one of those side to side numbers you may catch your grandparents doing.
The second high point of pop on this record comes from “New Something.” This is easily the most lively song on the record, and it combines aspects of both “Remember” and “Colors Radiate,” which only adds to the appeal. What I mean by that is that we have the obvious pop influence like we do on “Remember” but a similar by-way of greatness riff that makes up the majority of the music as we do on “Colors Radiate.” This song is the culmination of everything that makes Camera Shy so great, and I am head over heels in love with it.
Towards the end of the record, things really slow down. The majority of the music on ‘Camera Shy’ was never fast, but with tracks like the album’s swan song, “Seemingly Ill” we’ve approached new territory. It’s by no means bad and this is by no means a complaint. It’s more of a heads up that the album comes to an end with one of the most somber and slow songs of Camera Shy’s career. That’s how I like albums to close anyway. Not necessarily slow, but with a feeling of well-roundedness and closure.
Camera Shy have written a record that is a stern reminder of just how cool pop music can sound. You don’t have to fall into the same tropes of the Taylor Swift’s and the Katy Perry’s to make a decent pop song. You just need to be able to write some sweet, catchy songs, and it’s fairly clear that Camera Shy have a very firm grasp on that.