Take one part Vampire Weekend, one part Circa Waves, sprinkle in some pluck, prep and pep and you’ll have something akin to the sunny jams served up in Landmark, the debut album from Minnesotan millennials Hippo Campus.
There’s a youthful exuberance to these 13 tracks fuelled by lolloping drums, sing-song guitar riffs and boisterous bursts of brass, falsetto and whistling – but don’t write off this record as juvenile. Amid the talk of backyard break-ups (‘Simple Season’), drunken dials (‘Tuesday’) stolen touches (‘Boyish’) and pot-influenced ponderings (‘Vacation’) is an impressively focused sound.
Melodies are tight (and damn catchy), production seamless (thanks to BJ Burton, the producer behind Bon Iver) and lyrics inflected with wit and wisdom. Take ‘Way It Goes’, a tongue-in-cheek takedown of the band’s own lackadaisical indie vibe and hipsterdom, for example. Or there’s the familiar sketch of the artistic soul, “So pretentious that she almost thought it cool”, in ‘Poems’, and the alarmingly accurate motto for 20-somethings, “All we ever knew is what we didn’t have”, found in toe-tapping single ‘Boyish’.
In playfully embracing and exposing the contradictions of adolescence, Landmark sets itself apart from the milieu of other jangly indie rock. Who knows? Ezra Koenig might even approve.
Hippo Campus’ Landmark is available now through Transgressive.