The Band CAMINO – ‘The Dark’

By Katherine Allvey

You know when a TV show features a fictional boyband to further a plot point? Think ‘Boyz4now’ from ‘Bob’s Burgers’ or ‘4*Town’ from ‘Turning Red’. The latest release from The Band CAMINO is the album that a teenage character from a sitcom would love. If you put ‘generate soft rock suitable for a family reunion that will cause your aunt to say ‘ooooh, I like that!’’ into an AI music generator, you’d get ‘The Dark’. The Band CAMINO have created an uncanny valley facsimile of a mainstream rock record. It feels disconcertingly unreal, like Jeffery Jordan is applying a Snapchat filter to his own feelings.

Maybe they’ve all fallen into complex situationships recently, or found romantic partners with so much emotional baggage that they’d need to pay extra to check it in at the airport. The main theme of most of the eleven songs is unrequited adoration. Of course, there’s a time and a place for songs devoted to the object of your affection. There are infinite examples of infatuation fuelling exemplary songwriting. While we’d never expect The Band CAMINO to produce a death metal record about mutilation, they’ve displayed more range than this. Take the euphorically nihilistic ‘1 Last Cigarette’ or the gently humourous confessional ‘Sorry Mom’, both from their last release, for instance.

To be fair, ‘3 Month Hangover’ has a less blunt edge than the rest of the tracks. It’s well hidden among the synths and lyrics that are soaked with sticky dishwater of regret though. ‘Last Man in the World’ is a club banger under a thin veil of rock. The drum solos on ‘Told You So’ add a distorted heartbeat to reflect the conflicted narrative. But there’s always this return to love as the ultimate feeling in the world, and an ever-present address to a mysterious ‘you’. If they’re aiming to make us think that we collectively are their one true love, it’s a tactic that comes across as very Backstreet Boys. It’s more like the ghost of all our combined past relationships haunts this album, lurking at the fringes of our perception.

Don’t expect to be lyrically challenged either. ‘Waking up with butterflies’ when you see your loved one? ‘It’s not me, it’s you’? The lyrics may be meant to convey that their feelings are ‘more real’ than stereotypes, but it’s not apparent after several listens. There was so much potential on The Band CAMINO’s first album to branch out into something interesting; they could have opted for late night acoustic coffee shop rawness, or full on prancing synth rock. Instead, they’ve made an album that you’ll hear playing in H&M when you dash in to find a cheap pair of shoes.

The Band CAMINO’s fresh batch of songs will probably receive an enthusiastic reception on their upcoming US tour. Will the tour run swell without the same (vastly excessive) amount of autotune the band used on this album? That remains to be seen. If you’re producing a remake of a nineties sitcom and you need a set of songs to soundtrack a road trip episode, then ‘The Dark’ is the album you’ve been looking for all this time. If you aren’t in that position, as most of us aren’t, you will also find this album a hollow shell of what industry execs think ‘the people’ want from a rock band.

KATE ALLVEY

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