Summer Camp – Welcome To Condale (Apricot/Moshi Moshi)

October 31, 2011 by  

At the end of the year I have a feeling there will be a top 5 list for bands in 2011 who have caused a listener to have the best nostalgic ’80s experience when listening to them. I’ve also got the feeling Summer Camp will be in the top two.

Like a lot of bands this year, Summer Camp decided to shroud themselves in mystery and no one had a definitive answer for who they were or where they came from, all that was known was they had an 1980′s twang about their music. The guesses included a Scandinavian girl group and a fourpiece from the Windy City. Both were wrong and it turned out the band consisted of a real life couple, one man (Jeremy Warmsley) one woman (Elizabeth Sankey) coming from the capital of
England (London). A shock to many people including myself, for they’re debut LP ‘Welcome to Condale’ plays like it has stars and stripes painted all over it.

Lyrically and musically there seems to be an American teenage romance feel to a lot of the songs on the album, like they belong in a John Hughes movie. There seems to be a song for every character, the outcast (‘Nobody Knows You’), the shy nerd (‘Summer Camp’) and the bad boy (‘Last American Virgin’). It’s an album that has a number of songs that you can relate too whether your the love sick teenager or the popular prom queen, there’s a song for you here somewhere but it just depends on what character you think yourself to be?

Lead single and album opener ‘Better Off Without You’ has that surf pop vibe similar to The Drums but more upbeat. Its a danceable bitter-sweet break up song sparkling with chime-like sounds offering a more positive view of heartache; if all break up’s sounded this good the world would be a far happier place.

It’s Sankey’s vocals that really impress throughout the album. She can suddenly change gears from bouncy and vibrant (‘Down’) to heartfelt and saddening (‘Done Forever’). However its ‘I Want You’ where she really draws you in. This is a song about a girls deep obsession and along with the hypnotizing synths in the background, Sankey makes every line as seductive as the next. Even psychotic lines of “If I could I’d kiss your lips so hard your entire face will bruise” are sang in such an inviting way it’s impossible to resist her. Sankey then teases at the closing of the song as she purrs “it’s up to you?” repeatedly, like you had a choice in the first place.

Like Cults, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and M83, Summer Camp have taken a style from a time long ago and made it their own by giving it a fresh look and making it contemporary. It’s just like recycling, and recycling can save the planet. Maybe it can do the same thing for popular music.

[rating:4.5]


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