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Like Ziggy Stardust or Sgt. Pepper, Captain of the Lost Waves belongs to that very singularly English tradition of musicians loosely masking their identities with alter egos. What separates the Captain, however, is that his real name, for now, remains undisclosed, and his new album Hidden Gems – Chapter 1 offers little in the way of clues. Although there exists definable cornerstones—the prog rock of Jethro Tull, the pop experimentalism of *Brian Wilson*—the band thrives more in that vague no man’s land, that abstract Venn diagram where goth, cabaret, vaudeville, and the circus all intersect.
The production is sparse, and the instrumentation obscure, like this is actually an album from a group of travelling gypsy troubadours recorded by a cultural anthropologist for posterity. Hidden Gems oscillates between the maudlin and melodramatic like “Summer” or “Another Planet,” and the playful and humorous like “Happy In Bed” or “Danger,” a self-deprecating ode to this planet’s plague of indulgent singer-songwriters. Above all, the album is heartfelt and sweetly sincere, never once verging into the pit of novelty or gimmicks into which it could so easily fall headfirst. Simply put, Hidden Gems is as beguiling as it is charming, and it leaves one desperately longing for a second chapter.
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