By Clayton Chaney
Artist: Hippo Campus
Record Label: Transgressive
Release Date: February 24, 2017
It’s been just over a year since Hippo Campus released their debut full length album Landmark and I still can’t fathom all the ways it has made me feel. These 13 incredibly smooth and passionate tracks make it quite easy to get lost and then find yourself, multiple times. It’s amazing how mature this group sounds on their first full-length album, but it also shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering how pleasing their previous two EPs, South and Bashful Creatures. They’ve definitely set the bar high for themselves and I feel it’s safe to say this album rightfully deserves its name (Landmark), because it certainly is one for the band.
The album starts off with a very trancy intro, “Sun Veins,” that has high-pitched chimes and slow muffled lyrics, which blends perfectly into a more beachy and relaxed second track, “Way it Goes.” The third piece on the album, “Vines,” has simplistic guitar chords for the chorus, but starts to get more introspective with lyrics. For example, “waking up to the feeling that everyone’s leaving,” acknowledges one of everyone’s biggest fear: being the only one left out. They slow it down a little with next track, “Epitaph,” which seems to take an even deeper dive about what’s like to have to make daily decisions that ultimately shape our lives.
The next section of the album is more upbeat and jolly to remind you that it doesn’t always have to be dark and gloomy. The fifth track, “Simple Season,” lifts you back out of this funk with bouncy, high-pitched guitar riffs and cheerful lyrics that make you feel like you can take on the world, but only when you’re having a good day, because if you’re feeling down it seems like the world is mocking you . They followed up this piece with “Tuesday.” This one makes you feel grateful and lucky just to be alive despite all the confusion we have to put up with just to stay sane. This one ends with an anthem of chanting “sometimes I call it a Tuesday, sometimes it’s the best day of my life.” Sometimes we have forgettable days, but sometimes we get to experience things that we will hold on to forever. The next one on the list is “Western Kids” which continues the theme of a beachy and cheerful atmosphere. The best part of this track is the last 45 seconds when the songs takes a deep drop that promotes an undeniable presence of surrealism.
The next two songs on the album, “Poems” and “Monsoon,” slow the pace back down. This where you may start to lose yourself again. The soft drums and slow, thoughtful, poetic lyrics may just leave you questioning everything.
The last section of the album may be the most satisfying and skillfully crafted part. This section begins with the tenth track, “Vacation,” which is undoubtedly my favorite song off the album. The first 12 seconds of this track are absolutely incredible. I had no idea I could feel so much and gain so much from art in such little time until I listened to this track. The rest of the song doesn’t disappoint either as it takes you through multiple levels and offers you some kind of peace with a joyful anthem to close it out.
After that we have one of the louder tracks, “Boyish.” This one moves a little fast and makes you feel like you’re struggling to keep up. It builds and builds with fast drums only to end abruptly into a slower transition to their interlude track. The interlude starts off slow but builds up to an almost unbearably tense tone that is flawlessly relieved by the last track, “Buttercup.” This is a truly incredible piece that feels more than real. The choppy drums and smooth bass lines make it easy to get moving and with overwhelmingly passionate lyrics, this track takes you places you’ve always wanted to go. The last minute of this one really gives you the opportunity to rock out, everything but the vocals and drums drop out and then everything slowly gets reincorporated for one of the most energetic anthems of all time.
In the expediently expanding world of new age indie-rock, it can be difficult to find young bands that have distinct original characteristics. Hippo Campus was able to expand on their pre-existing sounds and really polish them off as well as successfully experiment with new sounds. They touched on a wide range of topics and genres with this album and have stockpiled enough tracks to put on some astounding live shows, which is the type of environment they thrive in. The band has released another EP, “Warm Glow,” since the album. Hopefully this is a sign of more music to come and fingers crossed they come through Austin! Be sure to throw them in your library if you’re looking for quality and authentic music.