Album review: Hippo Campus’ Landmark an impressive debut

Twin Cities indie-rock quartet Hippo Campus released their debut album, Landmark on Feb. 24. The album comes after the two EP’s they released in 2014 and 2015, Bashful Creatures and South. The band is comprised of friends who met in high school in St. Paul, Jake Luppen (vocals/guitar), Nathan Stocker (guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass), and Whistler Allen (drums/vocals). On the streets, they are commonly known as Turntan, Stitches, Espo, and Beans. Hippo Campus has toured with bands like Saint Motel and Walk the Moon, and this year, earned a slot at Bonnaroo, a music festival in Tennessee. The band also just announced their first headlining tour, which covers the U.S. and some parts of Canada.

The album Landmark includes an eclectic mix of songs. “Way it Goes,” a song that was released before the album came out, is catchy and fun. The song has interesting lyrics, such as “Degenerate, counter-culture, crying Socialist / Hip-to-lazed crazed abstractionist / We’re weird, but Lord knows we’re trying.”

“Monsoon” slows things down with soft vocals and lyrics like “the pleasure’s good as the pleasure’s sound / my chin held shut so my heart can talk louder.” “Poems” is also a slower song in the album with calming vocals and gentle instrumentals.

“Epitaph” stands out as a song in the album, and is full of feelings and reverberation. I really liked the song because its sound reminded me of a band I really like, The Japanese House. “Epitaph” mixes lush dream pop with melodic guitars, making it a beautiful song. The lyrics also add depth to the song such as in “I know a place out beyond these pines / Where the sky falls down with the cumulus cries / A winter song for a January type / I could tame my heart / I could blind my eyes.”

“Tuesday” is another one of my favorite songs. It’s an upbeat track, poking fun at how drinking can influence relationships. With lyrics like “My friends say we are the lucky ones / In terms of our relationship / Alcoholic tendencies underneath our fingertips / I think I love you, I think I know you / Or is it only liquor speak?” the song is just as fun as it is relatable.

The song “Vacation” sounds like a perfect road-trip song with lyrics like “I’ve had my time in the present tense / I’m taking vacation where vacancy’s permanent / I’ll find my inner tranquil there.”

If you’re taking a trip for Spring Break, Landmark is a great album to listen to if you’re on the road or on a plane.

On discussing Landmark, the band said, “The album became a collision of two versions of ourselves, each trying to have control of everything. The first, a suffering arch-backed, wild man rubbing two sticks together to make fire in a barren cave. The other, carefree in reflection, drenched in summer and whiskey with its writing hand working flawlessly. One side of the coin is seeking honesty, real reflection, therapy. The other, a cynical child, utilizing irony to tear down a ship we had worked so hard to build.”

These themes can be heard throughout the album. Some songs are laid back and some are intense. Some are pop-influenced and some have a more profound sound. The myriad of elements in Landmark makes it a great listen and each song has its meaning and purpose.

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