Los Angeles – Hippo Campus is already making a name for themselves before their first LP even hits the streets. The Minnesota indie rock quartet had an impressive 2015 and 2016 with addictive singles such as “Suicide Saturday” and “South”. While barely in their early 20s, Jake Luppen (vocals/guitar), Nathan Stocker (guitar), Zach Sutton (bass), and Whistler Allen (drums) are poised to release their debut LP, Landmark on February 24th via Grand Jury Records. Introducing 13 brand new tracks (including an intro and interlude), Hippo Campus is prepared to make 2017 their biggest year yet. While the group’s first EPs 2014’s Bashful Creatures and 2015’s South were playful, hip, and carefree, the band has definitely demonstrated a keen sense of maturity. Hippo Campus’ efforts always feature vivacious synths, ample optimism, and infectious hooks. The band has made great strides toward becoming an elite rock act with their promising debut LP, Landmark.
The album gets underway with “Way It Goes,”. The sunny, energetic single is the type of tune you can find yourself getting lost to while driving down the highway. If you’re new to Hippo Campus, this is the one that will get you started. Next “Vines” is a silky smooth tune with catchy guitars riffs, Luppen’s charming vocals, and dynamic drums. It’s a head-bobbing song that is brimming with excitement for sure. My dark horse pick for one of the best songs off the record is “Epitaph.” It starts off like a slow Vampire Weekend tune. The gorgeous, warm effort is a daydream waiting to happen. Hippo Campus doesn’t rely on tricks or the manipulative power of thinking about yesteryear. They are inclined to touch upon yesterday, remind you it’s not always about tomorrow, and to have your sights set on today because that’s all you really have.
Moving on to “Simple Season,” the track reminds you of something like Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s another song with a memorable melody overflowing with pleasurable echoes from beginning to end. The stark beauty of “Tuesday,” will lend you a helping hand if you’re trying to escape from some temporary plight, confusion, or uncertainty. Trust me when I say, Landmark provides better escapism than any recent sounds or summer movie blockbusters have. In addition, “Monsoon” is a towering, but subtle contribution to Landmark. Reminiscent of Broken Social Scene with the occasional distorted vocals/sounds making brief appearances, “Monsoon” is the most peaceful composition on the record. However, not to be outdone, follow-up track, “Vacation” is a contemplative song that expands the horizons of Hippo Campus. It has a deeper emphasis on storytelling, an exhibit of newfound wisdom, and this pure validation that the band, despite how young they may be, go beyond the one-dimensional sounds usually associated with debut LPs. Then there’s “Boyish,” which debuted a couple months back when they announced this LP. It’s a feverishly ambitious song that is teeming with zest, immaculate arrangements, and unyielding verve.
Finally, Landmark is a forty-five minute assortment of tunes that should appeal to a wide, eclectic audience. The energy is in abundance, the soulfulness is evident, the youthful charm is ever so clear and the positivity is real. Hippo Campus has crafted a memorable experience with pleasing melodies, lustrous guitars, and bold vocals. The entire record touches upon the fact that their days of being teenagers are now in the past and the transition into adulthood is arriving. While it may certainly be for the greater good, Hippo Campus does a find job reminding us all that growing up is inevitable and never stops.
Landmark is available for purchase on vinyl or CD via Grand Jury Music or for digital download through iTunes. Hippo Campus is currently on tour. Head over to the Hippo Campus Facebook page for tour dates.
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