EP Review: Hippo Campus – Wasteland

The American indie kings Hippo Campus are celebrating their ginormous return with the release of their latest EP ‘Wasteland’. Dipped into their trademark alt sound and embezzled with the flowery, honest spheres of country music, the five-piece is leaning into a rather new soundscape while staying true to the themes that have always had a firm place in their songwriting – grief, friendship, love, heartbreak and everything in-between.

Recorded together with longtime friend and collaborator Caleb Wright, who is also part of Hippo Campus’ brainchild Baby Boys, the EP starts off with the multilayered ‘Moonshine’, which, according to the group, is about falling in love with a world that is on fire, as they state: “A final Tennessean sunset with hues of southern comfort, shades of cicada swarms, and tints of radiation exposure. Disco’s dead, and that inevitability is universal. The inferno awaits us all”.

The following ‘Yippie Ki Yay’ takes us right back into familiar territory, with Hippo Campus’ famed guitar riffs, addictive drum basses and lead singer Jake Luppen’s fiery voice screaming out lyrics like, “I don’t need a fucking guilt trip / pulled the rug / elbows red from lying down / pissed you off again / is it my problem now? / is it mine?”. It’s alt-rock at its best and once more underlines how the Minneapolis-based friends have made a name for themselves as the indie heavyweights that they are.

Reaching the lands of more sombre, calmer-sounding lands, the wonderous ‘Honeysuckle’ and ballad-like ‘Probably’ tell tales of the love that didn’t work out and the darkness that may come with it. Stripped back and showcasing the band’s eclectic lyricism skills, the tracks make use of Hippo Campus’ trademark straight-forwardness, imagery, and dark humour as a vehicle to discuss the grief, loss, and love they’ve collectively experienced in the past year.

Reaching its final destination, the EP settles down in the sonic world created by the laid-back ‘Kick In The Teeth’, which, rolling over the waves of the full record, takes the deepest dive into the universe of country music. Discussing themes of solitude and, ultimately, perseverance, the song stands as a warm, raw ode to a lover and marks a musical purge in the Hippo Campus’ repertoire while it leaves the wish for more even long after the last note has fallen.

Written by Laura Weingrill

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