There has always been something about Hippo Campus that keeps my ears drawn and my interest piqued.
From their inception, adding two EP’s in 2015, “Bashful Creatures” and “South,” to their debut full-length record “Landmark,” they have nailed the sounds of indie pop and rock.
Hippo Campus does not create the cheesy and bashful sounding indie pop that you hear on the radio. They produce a powerful, sophisticated and detailed indie pop experience.
However, they are also known for their incorporation of other genres into their records. For example, on “Landmark” they most likely took influence from the progressive rock scene, since the record was broken into three plots woven into the track listing.
So, when the stand-alone single “Passenger” dropped I was taken aback, since they are taking influence from more experimental pop and rock scenes of the underground.
“Passenger,” now the closing track to their sophomore record “Bambi,” takes influence from singer-songwriters like Sam Smith and Sufjan Stevens.
But on top of that there is a textured and neatly woven ambient tone that floats on for the latter half of the track. This influence continues throughout the rest of the record.
The intro track “Mistakes” is another prime example of using a very ambient atmosphere to help introduce the record.
However, ambient music is not the only genre that peaks its head out during this record. On the track “Bubbles,” there is a post-punk vibe with the distorted and jagged aggression of guitars and drums, with a very angular and verbose set of vocals in the middle of the track.
The rest of the track, as well as the track “Anxious,” has a heavy influence in hypnogogic pop.
So, in the end, they take a plethora of influence from Sufjan Stevens, Beck, MGMT and Saint Motel.
Individually each track is a creative and explorative experience that will keep your head bopping along to the melodic grooves, mesmerizing drum fills and angelic vocals.
However, the whole listening experience is tainted and dragged down by the lack of cohesion.
My main praise of “Landmark” is the detailed story-telling flow that the record brought to the table.
“Bambi” is missing this key ingredient and to be honest, if they added it again this record would be one of my highlight indie albums of the last five years.
It is not to say that there is not great meaning to the tracks because there is. Each track seems to tackle different areas of heartache but in a very light-hearted manner.
Overall Hippo Campus painted a great set of images; however, these pictures do not always go great together when put next to each other.