Album Review: HIPPO CAMPUS – “WARM GLOW”

By Seyi Olomodosi

The fact that Hippo Campus’s formative years were spent at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, where the band attended high school, is clear through their instrumental prowess and lyrical artistry. This strong artistic foundation stands out in their latest release, warm glow. In the EP, their first release since their debut album, the band continues their trend towards a smoother, more produced sound as opposed to the brash and teenage (but still very good) sound of their early releases.

The record’s opener, baseball, is the most classic Hippo-Campus-sounding song on the EP. It features punchy, bright guitar with a supremely danceable melody and smooth vocals that make you want to sing along. Traveler is a softer ballad but still features the complex guitar melodies that have become a trademark of the young Minnesota band. The song, and indeed the whole EP, masterfully switches between loud and soft without sounding awkward or forced. The end of traveler flows cleanly into the EP’s title track, warm glow. In this the final track of the release, Jake Luppen’s silky falsetto guides the listener through soft warm synths that crescendo into a catchy climax that effortlessly fades into softness.

Overall, the EP is a good introduction to the band and what they seem to be about: excellent guitar work, melodies that are equally catchy and clever, intelligent lyrics, and interesting movement within songs. Hippo Campus sound young without sounding immature, indie without being cheesy. Jake Luppen’s vocals on the EP are suave and polished, showing off his excellent range and control. The rest of the band is equally as talented, as their musical contributions compliment and accentuate the talents of the lead singer.

The whole warm glow EP is very reminiscent of youth, both musically and lyrically. The first song, baseball, talks about friendship, with allusions to romance. Traveler seems to be about the vague discontentment that often accompanies the young adult lifestyle – the songwriter wakes up hung-over and seemingly dissatisfied with romance. The lyrics seem ramble-y at times, as if to mimic the way the mind races when it philosophises. Both baseball and traveler reference drinking and drug use. The album wraps up thematically with tranquil lyrics that describe the look and feel of a peaceful summer morning and convey the idea that somehow, everything is okay.

In general, I’d highly recommend the EP to those who are interested in a talented up-and-coming band on the indie scene. If the EP piques your interest, I’d recommend listening to their releases chronologically to see the growth in their sound (also because it would be criminal to skip their early releases, which have gems such as Little Grace and Close to Gold, among others).

 

 

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