Summer Camp - Summer Camp

A wholly enjoyable second effort.

Label: Moshi Moshi

Rating: 8

It’s been roughly two years since Summer Camp dropped their long-awaited debut full-length ‘Welcome To Condale’ on the masses. It was a thoroughly enjoyable offering; a rose-tinted view of teenage nostalgia that epitomised their distinctive taste for John Hughes filmography and eighties-tinged pop. Now, with a notoriously difficult second album to traverse, will they opt for further sentimentality, or a complete departure in sound altogether?

Well, it’s a bit of both it seems. Opening track ‘The End’ (quite humourous, guys) starts out slightly ominously, featuring a ‘HEAVY HIT AFTER HEAVY HIT!’-esque kick drum that Sir Westwood would be proud of. And it’s a tad disconcerting, at first. Not to worry though, as it slowly morphs into the wonderfully melodic Summer Camp the world knows and loves, Sankey’s warming tones glide effortlessly across the track, backed by warm, fuzzy synths and some comforting jangly guitars of yore.

There are a couple more sonic surprises in store, though. ‘Everything Has Changed’ and ‘Phone Call’ sound like b-sides from TLC or Mariah Carey’s unheard back catalogue, with their straight up hip-hop beats and uber-pop melodies leading the way. Which, of course, are all good things. They’re just a bit jarring when they pop up unexpectedly amidst the rest of the album.

And the rest of the album, thankfully, is predominantly filled with trademark Summer Camp classics. ‘Fresh’ is a brilliant bit of tomfoolery; a delectable mix of summer-y string samples and Phoenix-aping funkery, reminiscing on the magic beginnings and heartbreaking endings of first love. ‘Crazy’ provides a hard-hitting burst of heavy pop, its powerful beat complemented by a wonderfully constructed horn sample and some epic harmony-drenched choruses. ‘I Got You’ goes all out on the percussion and Asian-influenced synth lines, sounding like an urban-indie take on Aneka’s 1981 hit ‘Japanese Boy’.

‘Fighters’ offers up the first real change of pace, a short but sweet piano ballad that truly wouldn’t sound amiss on a Beyoncé album, while closing tracks ‘Night Drive’ and ‘Pink Summer’ are bold slow jams that understand the importance of taking their time in unleashing those euphoric highs, and are all the more memorable for it.

All in all, Summer Camp have offered up a wholly enjoyable second effort, possessing of a homespun charm that bears more similarities to those early Myspace demos than predecessor ‘Welcome To Condale’, and filled with Sankey’s tales of teenage love and nostalgia, which are still far from tiresome. Apart from a few moments of brief departure in sound, for the most part you get what you’d expect from Summer Camp. But hey, why change it when it’s so damn good?