Our world is full of sad singer-songwriters, and B.C. Camplight (ne Brian Christinzio) is one of the latest in the line-up. His debut album, Hide, Run Away piques one’s curiosity with the gigantic, insatiable killer squirrel on the front cover, stalking the land for hapless businessmen, but quickly disappoints with cheap, uninspired tracks. Hide pushes tragic bubble gum pop in the style of Death Cab for Cutie, Broken Social Scene, and Ben Folds, just not nearly as compelling.
Camplight has studied piano since he was four years old, claiming George Gershwin, Burt Bacharach, and Todd Rundgren as his idols. Unfortunately, he does not play the part of piano man very well, relying too much on atmospherics and dull guitar strumming to pick up his simple key lines. “Emily’s Dead to Me” is a tepid piano ballad, accented with a carnival pump organ and melancholy string arrangement, while “Wouldn’t Mind the Sunshine” takes the form of a folky, fireside camp song (is this where the Camplight comes from?). A dense, pondering organ kicks off “Parapeleejo,” only to launch into a Broadway jazz-hands tune. “Richard Dawson” features a horn sample, signaling the opening of the hunt, as Camplight obsessively pounds on his piano.
“Blood and Peanut Butter,” however, is miles ahead of the other tracks on Hide. Beginning with choppy piano chords, the song spontaneously escalates to heavy synth beats and danceable tambourine. Fellow Philadelphian Cynthia G. Mason accents Camplight’s bare Gibbard-esque vocal stylings.
Unlikely to rock the suburbs, Hide, Run Away will probably collect dust in a closet, and B.C. Camplight will pass through pop history unnoticed. The world is as it should be.