Hippo Campus – Wasteland EP

Yet another delightful showcase of the group's wide-ranging talents.

Label: Grand Jury
Released: 14th April 2023

“How the hell did we get here?” lead vocalist Jake Luppen ponders within the opening track of a surprising new project from Minnesotan veterans Hippo Campus – and it’s a great question.

Just last year, the five-piece released an alt-pop full-length, which itself followed a hyper-pop EP, a synth-driven album and a series of indie records; these guys have never been ones to stand still for too long. While at first a startling change of pace, ‘Wasteland’ quickly cements itself as yet another delightful showcase of the group’s wide-ranging talents.

Beginning with the youthful and spritely ‘Moonshine’, this new endeavour is grounded entirely in natural instrumentation, a style Hippo Campus haven’t tapped into for a few iterations. Charming guitar licks smooth over a thematic of growing and moving on from pain, a concept also manifesting in the cathartic chaos of ‘Yippie Ki Yay’.

The energised but carefree energy of ‘Honeysuckle’ gives way to a rare Hippo Campus ballad in the form of ‘Probably’, a depressing exercise in fantasising about the new pursuits of former lovers. This is not a band you would expect to release a plain and honest break-up tune, but the abandonment of pseudo-edgy pretences is clearly the source of momentum driving the quintet down a constantly twisting road.

If the country leanings weren’t obvious enough from the artwork and previous track titles, the unfathomably catchy closer ‘Kick In The Teeth’ drives that home with a major swing and hit – good luck getting this hook out your head. Framing himself as a lonely cowboy, Luppen’s lead vocals deliver in droves as he not only pines for affection but looks for fulfilment through shared experiences.

Coming together as a succinct package hurtling Hippo Campus in an unexpected but exciting direction, ‘Wasteland’ gifts us a variety of tones with dramatic melodies and wistful soundscapes stuffed to the brim with the potent abilities of this dynamic group. The one thing it doesn’t provide is any idea of where they’ll be heading next.

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