Summer Camp’s first two records are so heavily indebted to the plastic-fantastic consumer culture of 80s America that it’s easy to feel they’ve arrived a quarter of a century too late. It was only a matter of time, then, until a like-minded filmmaker would call upon Summer Camp to provide the music for a film examining American youth.
‘Beyond Clueless’, written and directed by Charlie Lyne, is a homage to that critical grey-area in the film industry that is the teen movie. Clips from around 270 films see Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley provide a backing track to the classic American school social hierarchy; The Jocks, the Plastics, the Skaters and the Geeks. While this sort of thing is not new for Summer Camp, somehow applying it in a film context their music is given a new depth in both sound and meaning. The movie samples that have almost become their trademark are still there, as on ‘Meet The Cliques’. Samples of jocks boasting about how they run the school and skaters discussing the technicalities of a 50:50 grind are backed by fizzing synths that cast a critical shadow on what’s being said, putting the high school social order into some sort of question.
‘Beyond Clueless’ is also far darker than any of Summer Camp’s previous outputs, which more often than not focus on shimmering summery pop nuggets. This is an album that doesn’t celebrate teenage culture, but exposes the cracks in its facade. ‘Weak Walls’ has a very Lynch-esque feel to it, with audio samples of teenage stress giving way to a building maelstrom of guitar squalls and ferocious drum attacks. ‘Judgement’ runs alongside, opening with an audio clip that justifies the track’s name, “They surrender their bodies with the temptation of drugs, alcohol and pre-marital sex”. Brooding, sparse electronics add to the feeling of condemnation, all polished with a thoroughly cinematic sheen. What this soundtrack does most though is demonstrate the versatility of the duo, proving there is far more to Summer Camp than just sunshine and lollipops.
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