Tinged with colours of true confessions, surprising realisations, dark humour and a certain sense of nostalgia, ‘Good Dog, Bad Dream’ is indie-giants Hippo Campus’ latest musical endeavour and their first new outing since their 2018 stellar sophomore album ‘Bambi’. Assembled with a genuine sensation of freedom and an obsession and enjoyment for the process itself, the group’s newest EP stands proud amongst Hippo Campus’ whirlwind discography and paints the five-piece at their most human and most alive state yet.
Rolling through endless lands of experimental indie-riffs and terrific sound spheres, Hippo Campus have yet to produce a record that resembles anything the talented tumble of friends has released thus far. Over the past years, the Minnesota-based group – made up of vocalists and guitarists Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, bassist Zach Sutton, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson – has made surprise their virtue, with not even a single second being spent thinking about changing that.
Assembled from a glorious history of forever changing their sound and perfecting a style that evolves, twists and turns together with the five-piece, it is no wonder that Hippo Campus have yet to step onto pre-used and uninspired paths. And their latest release, the glorious EP ‘Good Dog, Bad Dream’, is the embodiment of just that. Glistening as a twisted tale of tumultuous youths, past regrets, adult realisations and wishes for a better future, their newest project shines brightly as their most honest, most personal work to date, thanks to the utter freedom the band was able to play around with while working on the EP. Produced completely by themselves and long-time collaborator and friend Caleb Hinz throughout various studio sessions, which might as well be imagined as a group of friends going on day and night-long adventures onto unknown walkways, each tune on ‘Good Dog, Bad Dream’ is as fresh and unique as the one that came before it.
Coupled with an immaculate production and underlined with an idea of just wanting to create good, enjoyable music without any strings attached or a straight, bounding vision, the songwriting and lyrical compositions are what push the EP to new heights. Wandering through a plethora of different themes and stories, Hippo Campus’ newest project ends up in a world of charming and almost comforting chaos, which is also reflected in the record’s soundscape. From start to finish, the band has set out to tick as many boxes as possible and finishes the mission effortlessly.
For once, there is the enigmatic ‘Deepfake’, which has guitarist Nathan Stocker singing “I thought I was cool but it turns out I’m a fake / Tryna make some money off of something that I hate / Wish it’d been as fun as it was back in the day / But hell, I guess it ain’t so bad as long as I get paid”, and paints a rather dreary picture of what one might understand as today’s music industry while listening to the complex track. Delving deep into lo-fi territory and peaking with layers of voices chanting “You’re cool, you’re really on a roll / I wanna be like you when I get older”, the song taps its toes into the familiarity that Hippo Campus has created, while also leaving that little spark of newness.
On the other hand, there is the utterly addictive ‘Where To Now’, which stands out thanks to its haunting bass lines and enthralling guitars. It is yet another sentiment as to why Hippo Campus have landed the title of titans of the indie-pop scene – they are insanely talented musicians and never shy of proving that.
Coming to a close with the rollercoaster ride that is the last track ‘Mojo Jojo’, which takes a slide into the lands of the group’s experimental side project Baby Boys, ‘Good Dog, Bad Dream’ is in its completion another surprise moment in time that sees Hippo Campus shine unlike ever before. Always staying true to themselves and their trailblazing, unique sound, the group has returned with a shockingly catchy five-song EP that has already taken their fans’ hearts by storm and stands as the perfect stepping stone for what is to come for the sensational group.
Written by Laura Weingrill // photography by Brittany O’Brien