Review: Summer Camp – Always EP
Published on July 17th, 2012 | Theo Gorst
For a band who introduced themselves under a shroud of anonymity, Summer Camp’s real guise is one that reveals its reference points with surprising ease. Basing their debut LP [with admirable dedication] in the fictional town of Condale, the London duo came across as devotees of John Hughes movies and My So-Called Life. In short their record inhabited a safe world informed by nostalgia, whereby they chose elements of pop culture they aesthetically valued and ignored depressing realities of the time they idealised. Indeed the music suited their form of escapism, with warm melodies and splashes of C86 guitars characterising their sound.
As such it’s with some interest that the innocent suburbs of Condale seem to have disappeared in favour of darker terrain. This is clear from the EP’s onset with “Life” beginning with ominous atmospherics, subdued keys and Elizabeth Sankey singing of her “dark soul”. As the track develops, squelching synths and a 4/4 beat are beckoned in thus showcasing the band’s progression into experts of menacing disco-pop. The track ends painfully short leaving the listener wanting more, yet no sooner has “Life” ended than the title-track’s lead begins. Capitalising upon the disconnect between Jeremy Warmsley’s robotic reverberated vocals and Sankey’s yearning cries, the stomping dance beat drives this single to be the band’s most assured track to date.
Elsewhere “City” (all songs have one word titles, signifying a more direct approach in songwriting) exhibits the band’s greatest departure on the EP with a rap on the third verse. Summer Camp have clearly left the confines of Condale and met some interesting sorts on the way. Their willingness to surprise the listener benefits the record to a great extent: Condale’s loss, our gain.
However that all songs refuse to break the 4:30 mark is frustrating, and although “Hunt” presents a fairly standard slice of chart-pop its outro shows an intelligent band developing strongly, so it’s a shame that it doesn’t continue for longer.
Summer Camp seem suited to the EP format, with their sole LP lacking the coherence of these five tracks. Although “Outside” shows the band unsuccessfully sacrificing their indie idiosyncrasies for unabashed pop, there’s a unity to the five tracks that make the EP a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
“You see us as you want to see us” is the quote that concludes The Breakfast Club, said when the five characters begin the see themselves as individuals. Indeed the question Always asks is: how do Summer Camp now view themselves in light of the progression they’ve made with this EP? The question is an undeniably interesting one, and is certain to be answered with their follow-up LP.