Album of the Week: Hippo Campus, 'Bambi'

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Hippo Campus, 'Bambi'
Hippo Campus, 'Bambi' (Courtesy of artist)
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"BJ [Hippo Campus producer] asked us, 'Do you want to make another Hippo Campus record? Or do you want to make a record under the name Hippo Campus?'" Hippo Campus guitarist Nathan Stocker told Billboard in an interview about their new album, Bambi. Press play and you'll know which way they decided to go. This is an experimental album for the Minnesota band, who seem to be expanding their sonic palate with each song they release.

If 2017's Landmark was a specific place - each song flowing and pulling you deeper into their liminal space in just under 45 minutes, then Bambi is an elevator ride that opens to a different floor with each song. You may be in one building, but there's something surprising on each floor. The Beach Boys' inspired first track, "Mistake" is harmony heaven, a wildly unexpected kicker with lead-singer Jake Luppen's voice modulated slow and deep, making it clear that this is not a continuation of Landmark. There's the delicate guitar driven "Why Even Change" that would be at home in an early Death Cab for Cutie record; album closer "Passenger" flits around and shows off drummer Whistler Allen's piano prowess with a gorgeous outro; and "Bubbles" which creates an anxiety that climaxes into a jarring distorted incoherent moment just past the halfway mark.

This album reveals a band ready to grow and challenge themselves, unafraid to change up their sound. It would have been easy to pander to their audience with another "Hippo Campus record," instead they leaned into their own maturation. That doesn't mean that there aren't some serious bops about serious things (at this point a bit of a Hippo Campus trademark), title track "Bambi" and "Golden" create a wonderful soundtrack to cry-dance to; seeking for understanding and comfort but not sure they deserve it. Step in and take a ride, enjoys the highs and lows with, Bambi, from Hippo Campus.

Watch Hippo Campus live from the Palace Theatre on Saturday, November 24. We expect them to take the stage around 8:45 p.m. CST.

Resources


Hippo Campus - Official Site

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