Album Review: ‘Welcome To Condale’ – Summer Camp

Move over King of Limbs, Angles and Biophilia; this is the coolest album of the year. Summer Camp, comprised of London-based girl/boy duo/couple Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley, have sold enough jumpsuits and brownies to fund the release of their debut. Not your typical method of funding, but Summer Camp aren’t your typical band – few bands so shamelessly embrace John Hughes movies and 1980s electro-pop influences while sounding this fresh (or pretend that, on releasing their first recording, the band is made up of seven Swedish teenagers). The album bypasses mere ‘concept album’-status by going further and inventing its own settlement – the titular Condale – which is, apparently, “a suburb of California that is quite close to the sea and has pretty amazing weather”.

Better Off Without You’ kicks off proceedings by sounding, as intended, like some long-lost 80s teen film soundtrack, with a corking opening riff and bouncing drum beats that give way to an immensely catchy chorus. The following two tracks are even more addictive; ‘Brian Krakow’ is a ludicrously funky, summery piledriver of a song – if you don’t bob along to it, you’re either deaf and/or soulless. ‘I Want You’ is my album highlight; its lyrics are aggressively stalker-ish and simultaneously wistful (“If I could I’d kiss your lips so hard your entire face would bruise”), whilst Sankey’s soaring vocals clash with the throbbing bassline in the best way possible. If nightclubs ever start playing good dance music, this will be a playlist stalwart. The album slows down after this – ‘Losing My Mind’ and ‘Nobody Knows You’ are weak points, but they’re still chillingly atmospheric – before it picks up again with ‘Down’, which is surely a contender for the best video of the year (it’s comprised entirely of GIFs). The last three tracks are every bit as stunning as the first three – ‘Last American Virgin’ sounds vaguely menacing, in spite of its whistling intro, as it details a dysfunctional relationship; ‘Ghost Train’, a re-recording of their first single, is gorgeously twee; album closer ‘1988’ is a swooning tale of reunited love, with a refrain of ‘88’ which wouldn’t sound out of place as a soundtrack to a cheerleading routine.

Essentially, if you’re looking for a serious, stoic British answer to Sigur Rós, this isn’t the album for you. If, however, you enjoy fun, quirky lo-fi albums that are more American than a Big Mac, you’ll love this.

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8 responses

  1. Omg when I read “john Hughes movies” I instantly thought “MUST HEAR”

    So I will.<33

    1. MEGA SANNE LOVE.
      Definitely a reason to listen to it – other reasons being that it’s a brilliant album… (I posted it on the band’s Facebook page and they liked it. Jen Steadman is moving up in the world.)

  2. This is a wonderful album and an even better review. I can only marvel at the amazing craftsmanship of this budding journalist, who will surely go onto achieve incredible things in the future, and this excellent band, who are far better than most of the music I listen to, especially the song ‘Free Bird’ by Lynyr-Can’t-Spell-Their-Name-Something.

    1. Aww, Chris – that’s what I love most about you. Your tolerance, your open-mindedness… : )

  3. What could only make this album better would be if you were going to see the band with a charming, witty and beautiful woman next year ;)

    1. That would be better. Unfortunately, I’mma have to make do with going with you ;)
      (Kidding, you know you are all of these things Noz <3)

  4. […] catalogue: Young EP (2010), Welcome To Condale (2011) [review here]. They’ve said to crowds on their tour that an EP is forthcoming later this year; the songs […]

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