Previously thought to be just a part of the brain where memories are formed, Hippo Campus is a fresh indie band out of St. Paul, ready to make their mark on the world. With two EP’s already under their belt, the group has masterminded an album to showcase themselves to the public. This is Landmark.
“Sun Veins,” a track standing at barely a minute long, sets the album off to an ominous tone, but carries the backing vocals and guitar to create a perfect transition into “Way It Goes”.
Originally released as a single, this track brings back the musical cohesion of the group from their previous works, but in a more mellow tone.
“Degenerate, counter-culture, crying socialist
Hip-to-lazed crazed abstractionists
We’re weird, but Lord knows we’re trying”
This song perfectly captures what the band has been up to. They’re simply just a couple of young musicians trying to make a name for themselves, and of course have some fun in the process.
On a song like “Vines”, the combined vocals of Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, and Whistler Allen, deliver somewhat unsettling lyrics in an overjoyous manor. This song is a lot like their older work, just an easy-going song that’s fun to sing along to.
“Epitaph” is nothing but a perfectly executed track. The intertwining of distorted vocals, blissful guitars, and an ever-so-subtle percussion backing creates a melodic ecstasy. The alteration of the vocals is reminiscent of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. Even though they change their sound quite a bit, the underlying pop sound they’re known for is still heard here.
“Poems” has standing as the longest track on the album and shows just how much the band has grown since their last EP. This song sounds nothing like their previous work; there is no catchy chorus, there isn’t even much of a structure to it, but they execute it perfectly. The softness of the whole thing makes it sound as more if The Temper Trap released this song rather than Hippo Campus.
With songs like “Vacation” and “Monsoon,” the group shows that they’re not only capable of creating high-paced hits, but mellow tunes as well. “Monsoon” especially stands out as one of the greatest parts of the album. A heart-wrenching track written about the death of a family member, it comes and goes leaving you torn open, just as the song name suggests.
The album ends perfectly with the final track, “Buttercup.” Making use of probably the most written song topic ever, a girl, the band has created one of their best songs to date. They take everything they’ve learned since their debut in 2013 and put it into this song, creating something above anything else they’ve done.
Overall, Landmark is a solid album. The songs on it don’t seem to blend together, but rather all have a bit of a distinct sound that flows nicely from one to another. While they do have experience from two EPs going into their debut album, the band has gone above and beyond with this. For Hippo Campus, Landmark is just that, a statuette showing the bands arrival to the main stage. Hippo Campus has made a lot of great music before, but Landmark gives them the validation they need to make it to the top.