Australian singer-songwriter Alex Cameron has established himself as one of the more interesting characters to come out of the international indie rock scene of the past decade. Combining a literary-minded and darkly comedic lyric sensibility with catchy pop-rock songwriting and social commentary on today’s fragmented and toxic world, Cameron’s music can make you twist, shout, and have an existential crisis.

Cameron and his “business partner” and saxophonist, Roy Molloy, have made a unique name for themselves on the back of Cameron’s high-concept albums about fading stars and dreams just out of reach, along with Cameron’s signature hip-swiveling dance moves and Bowie-esque androgyny. They entered the American consciousness with collaborations and tours with indie stars like Angel Olsen, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco, and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, as they built their band, toured internationally, and Cameron married artist and actress Jemima Kirke along the way. Now, we find Cameron at the height of his more established public persona and powers – but there’s always something new to discover with him. 

Cameron’s fourth album, Oxy Music, released in March 2022, builds on his previous albums in exploring themes of toxic masculinity, emotional repression, online culture, dysfunctional relationships, and now, drugs and even more alienation, with song titles like “Cancel Culture” and “Prescription Refill.” I was unsurprised to see a title like “Oxy Music” come from Cameron, as it is his sensibility in a nutshell: witty, self-referential, metamodern, and ironic, with a nod to the greats of the past (in this case, Roxy Music: another act that featured catchy rock in tandem with existential, incisive lyrics – and of course, saxophone solos to great effect.) 

Oxy Music was partially inspired by Nico Walker’s excellent semi-autobiographical novel Cherry, based on his experience as an Iraq war veteran from the Midwest who ended up in jail for robbing banks to pay for his opioid addiction. Like the drugs found in copious supply across Oxy Music, the music is fittingly pleasant, occasionally numbing, and somewhat disorienting, as Cameron’s lyrics make you pause to wonder “did he really just say that?” I really admire Cameron for pushing the limits and going where few other musicians today are willing to, a testament to his lyric sensibility that is more aligned with literature than your average rock song.

My favorite tracks on this album were two of the first singles released: the upbeat, vaccine-referencing, family dysfunction riff of “Sara Jo,” and the melancholy yet cathartic “K Hole.” Dwelling in synths, keyboards, and eminently danceable rock n roll, Cameron’s songs reflecting today’s era of the opioid crisis evoke a young Bruce Springsteen taking a time machine straight from the 80s to survey just how much society has continued to decay over the next decades.

Another album highlight is the title track, which features a collaboration with Jason Williamson of English post-punk rockers Sleaford Mods, who are known for their own commentary on working class life and the austerity era in England. He and Cameron put on a raucous upbeat romp to contemplate drugs, drag, and suicide.

Every album by “Al Cam” is worth exploring, and Oxy Music is no exception, although it finds him asking many questions, with few answers – but perhaps that is simply par for the course in our overly connected yet disconnected era. As his career continues, I hope Cameron continues to dig into his subversive wit and social commentary, his experiments with persona and performance art, and asking the questions that society is too scared to ask itself.