Review: Summer Camp - Welcome to Condale
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4/5You might remember geek-chic poster-boy Jeremy Warmsley from his brief time in the indie spotlight circa 2006, as one of the artists that made up the ‘thamesbeat’ scene. Well, he’s back - and this time he’s brought his girlfriend along. One song into their debut album Welcome to Condale I am ready to dismiss Summer Camp as yet another faux-Californian surf-rock pastiche - decent enough but nothing new, and all the worse for actually being from grey, grey London, where there is nary a tan in sight and where, I swear, it was dark by half four yesterday afternoon. This would have been a drastic mistake. Because it's official: I love Summer Camp. Their music is undeniably a heavy mix of influence after influence, but it’s an unusual mix of influences. They blend cheesy 80s synth-pop with 60s girl band melodies with the cut-glass dripping-cool vocals of a 21st century Debbie Harry; they capitalise on last summer's craze for lo-fi surf rock; throw in some modern beats, some Brat Pack film samples, some split girl/boy vocal lines... and somehow the result is twelve perfect three-minute pop songs.
One track is named after a minor character from My So-Called Life (the short-lived early 90s US teen drama series). This fits as the album captures perfectly the confused teenage alienation, loving and longing the show managed to evoke so well, simultaneously happy and sad, dreamy but dark and dripping with attitude. Had this album been released a few months ago it would probably have earned that dreaded ‘feel-good album of the summer’ label, or something similarly sickening. But that would have missed out on all the lyrical and emotional darkness that’s here too. As it is, despite the half-naked teenage beach bodies on its cover the whole thing perfectly matches the mood of this time of year, but this is music I still want to be listening to come winter, and spring, and summer. Forget Metronomy, Chew Lips, Best Coast et al and listen to these guys instead.
Welcome to Condale is out on Moshi Moshi records now.
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