Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Review of Summer Camp’s Welcome To Condale
BeatLondon’s Summer Camp likes them some make-believe, that much is clear. Their first appearance on the musical radar was in the guise of a Swedish septet with a taste for vintage photographs who’d met at a Summer retreat – hence their name. It didn’t take too long for them to be outed as the English duo of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey, which may have disappointed fans of elaborate back stories but should have done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those who like enthusiastic boy-girl indie-pop.
Not that they were going to be content to trade just on their musical merits. Their 2010 debut EP Young was peppered with ’80s references both within and without, from the song titles (“Veronica Sawyer”, “Jake Ryan”) to intro samples (a John Cusack quote from Say Anything opens up “Ghost Train”) and their retro-fixations – despite the fact that neither was old enough to appreciably remember the eighties – went from aesthetic to full-blown concept on their full-length debut Welcome To Condale.
In an attempt to live the American adolescence sold to them via a steady diet of John Hughes movies and the like, the duo created a fictional California town called Condale with which to set the album. In addition, album pre-release activities included crafting a zine which gave insights to the teen angst and drama that filled the halls of the local high school and acted as a vehicle for their songs’ meticulously-crafted backstory. All of which deserves and “A” for effort, but is ultimately unnecessary.
The songs on Condale are immediate, effervescent and come in a sugary package to mask the slightly bitter sentiments contained therein – they require no dressing up, no framing, no period-correct movie dialogue samples acting as prefaces but don’t really add much in the way of meaning or context. It’s worth noting that Summer Camp’s performance at SXSW was one of my favourites of the festival and showed the duo had no shortage of charisma or chemistry to compensate for, being far more engaging as a two-piece with backing tracks than many full bands. Similarly, Condale crackles with energy thanks to Sankey’s brassy vocals – ably supported by Warmsley, who occasionally tags in to take lead – and a punchy brand of gritty, lo-fi guitar-driven synth-pop that’s honestly way more ’90s than ’80s.
I appreciate and certainly do not begrudge Summer Camp’s desire to have as much fun with their band/album/concept as possible, to provide an angle or a hook with which to get people talking. I just feel it’s necessary to point out that they didn’t need to; great songs should always be enough.
Londonist talks to Emmy The Great about her This Is Christmas album with Tim Wheeler while The Whiteboard Project gets both of them to take part in a whiteboard-powered interview and iol has regular-style chat.
Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from The Vaccines for the b-side from their new “Wetsuit” 7″ single, out in limited edition – as in 50 pieces – on December 12. The Daily Record talks to frontman Justin Young about the throat surgery that sidelined the band this Fall but which now in the past – the band are back to performing live this Winter, hopefully set to make up the cancelled North American dates before too long.
Video: The Vaccines – “Tiger Blood”
Press Play And Record is a new blog that’s essential for those who remember the compilation cassettes that used to come attached to the front of NME – because that’s what it’s all about. Digitized NME compilation cassettes. Yes.
Oh, and if you were looking for ticket information for the Fucked Up David Comes To Life benefit show at the Great Hall on December 20, look no further – $20 plus tax (so $22.60 total) on sale right here, right now. I assume the tickets for the Sloan show the following night will be the same price and be online shortly.