Hippo Campus have finally released their debut record “Landmark”, this Friday February 24th, and it was well worth the wait. Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, the band profess to be heavily influenced by bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Little Comets, Last Dinosaurs, and WU LYF; and those influences are definitely clear in this record. Pretty much every track could be accurately described as “what you would get if Bombay Bicycle Club and Little Comets were to join together and become one band”; the clarity of Jake Luppen’s voice is reminiscent of Rupert Coles’s, while the softness of it calls to mind Jack Steadman. The group have heretofore released 2 EP’s entitled “South” (October 2015) and “Bashful Creatures” (February 2015; Landmark does a great job of pulling the best parts of those EP’s and placing heavy emphasis on those parts in new songs. For instance, in “Vines”, we hear a sound similar to that of “Close to Gold” but with a stronger bass line – and in “Buttercup”, we we hear a bit of “Opportunistic” but with Luppen’s voice closer to the forefront.
Despite these heavy influences, Hippo Campus does indeed have their own, unique sound and is for sure a standout amongst the many new bands coming around in the past few years. It is difficult to label them in any way – while they aren’t loud, they also aren’t quiet, and while they aren’t rock, they also aren’t pop. Hippo Campus sounds like a mix of other bands, and in that way, they aren’t really emulating anyone specifically – they created their own, individual style from their favorite elements of other artists’s sounds. You couldn’t listen to Little Comets and say “this band sounds like Hippo Campus” because they are only one of the many elements of Hippo Campus’s sound. We also see, in tracks like “Western Kids” and “Epitaph”, which feature keyboard/synths, “Monsoon”, a soft piano driven song, as well as in the experimentality evident in “Sun Veins” and “Interlude” that this is a band willing to take risks; they will not just be putting out safe, amplified guitar tracks – while those can be great, it is important that we also have bands who will go against the grain, and challenge themselves to do things nobody else has done – and Hippo Campus is certainly a band that I predict will continue to do just that.
The group is heading out on a headline tour of America tonight, beginning in Seattle, Washington and ending in Manchester Tennessee on June 11th. After this, they’ll head to Europe, with shows in the U.K. beginning on October 9th in Bristol, continuing on to Nottingham, Manchester and London, before going to Ireland and coming back to end the tour in Glasgow on October 15th.
Words by Jillian Frances
featured image courtesy of Paste Magazine.