Close to four years after the release of their second studio album, on February 4, 2022, the Minneapolis based indie pop band, Hippo Campus, released their newest album LP3. This record struck me as a new sound, instrumentally, accompanied by the classic lyrics of self reflection and realism true to Hippo Campus’s first two studio albums.
Although impressively in tune with their inner dialogue, the young and newly formed band had only begun to experience life post-high school and into the haze of adulthood. Hippo Campus continued to write with extreme vulnerability with their second album Bambi and continued that intimacy with LP3.
Four years after the release of Bambi, Hippo Campus re-introduced themselves as storytellers with nothing to prove and everything to gain. They craft songs with such intensity, it is impossible to listen without recognizing the passion behind the songs they sing. It is a refreshing change to see the confusion of adulthood openly embraced instead of cowardly hidden away, the album creates community. A community of adults who sit in the feeling of being low and instead of neglecting themselves, they seize their emotions and accept that they are not alone in their lowness. In contrast, it highlights the best that life has to offer from love and friendships to the freedom to be an individual and create your own identity.
Long term fans are introduced to a new Hippo Campus sound on this album, but it’s easy to see how the past albums and EPs have acted as stepping stones for this fully developed and altered way of making music. They have officially switched out their prior lyrical approach of poetic prose for a kicky take on just what being alive means.
The album kicks off with a bang. A horn bellows out and resonates until fading into a much calmer accompaniment reminding me of a dreamlike state. “2 Young 2 Die”, as we’re reminded multiple times from an echoey voice. This song encompasses the urge to dream and do something big in your life even if you don’t exactly know what that is yet. “So elusive like a, like a white stallion/ I wanna take it for a ride”. The lyrics and discombobulation of sounds are reminiscent of a 2016 The 1975 sound.
The second track “Blew Its” focuses on the difficulties and even failures we face with a similar association of ideas as the first track. The last verse was the best part of the song in my opinion.
The album continues to discuss the difficulties about growing up like being stuck in a relationship that’s heavily one sided in “Ride or Die,” or the innate youthly desire to run away with your first love on “Understand.”
An essential element in this album would be the idea that sometimes adulthood contains periods of isolation and in that, you must find the will to do what is best for you because no one tells you what to do anymore, you are in charge of yourself. Jake Luppen, the lead vocalist sings, “kissing boys, missing work, got hungover from your words…all these nights are a blur” (“Boys”). He vulnerably shares his own path to discovering the person he is meant to be and clearly depicts that the path is not clear or linear but he’s young and has time to figure it all out, mistakes included.
I would like to highlight “Scorpio.” As a long standing Hippo Campus fan this is definitely an experimental style for them. The vocals are airy and light and the instrumental is digestible with a slight guitar and trumpet mash up in the background. Interesting track.
My favorite song from this album is definitely “Listerine”. Lyrically, no song on the album comes close to this one. The melodically sweet vocals paired with the bold and dark vocals feels like an oxymoron that just works.
Additionally, the song “Bang Bang” begins as a fast piano melody introduces the tale of the inevitable end of a long-distance relationship. Luppen sings, “We’re pulled in two directions/I’m not that guy” (Bang Bang). Although silly in hindsight, it can be understood why it is easy to stay in something you are comfortable in, even if it hurts you more the longer you stay. Real-life example: Staying in bed and hitting snooze even when you know that the time for you to get up has long passed. It is easier and more comfortable to lay in your bed for a few more minutes.
LP3 ticks off every small issue in youth that feels like a tragedy in the matter of a mere 33 minutes. And every minute of the almost four year wait was worth it. If you do not have time to listen to the album in its entirety allow me to make a few suggestions: “Ride or Die”, “Semi Pro”, “Bang Bang”, and “Blew Its”.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the album. Although it encourages deep thought on intricate topics such as identity and maturity, it superficially serves as an indie-rock album with nothing but dance hits.
Photo Credits From: https://read-gem.com/2022/02/10/album-review-hippo-campus-lp3/