After a massive rise of success following the release of their debut album Landmark, indie-pop group Hippo Campus of Saint Paul, Minnesota have left their fanbase over the moon once again with the recent release of their bold sophomore album, Bambi. A year and a half after the release of Landmark, and a year after dropping their “Warm Glow” EP, members Jake Luppen (vocals), Nathan Stocker (guitar), Zach Sutton (bass, keys), Whistler Allen (drums), and Decarlo Jackson (trumpet) bring an entire new sound to their music that fans were not expecting. With a running time of 33 minutes, music lovers are certainly in for an empowering and emotional listen of the ten song record. While listening to this album for the first time, you might be expecting the classic “Hippo Campus” sound, but instead you will be pleasantly surprised with the new sounds Bambi presents.
The album is introduced with soothing sounds of the eerie track titled “Mistakes” as Luppen’s chill worthy vocals set the tone of an epic and empowering record. The quick transition from “Mistakes” into “Anxious” brings the listener smoothly from eerie vocals into an upbeat song that urges you to dance. The transition is reminiscent of the transition between “Sun Veins” and “Way It Goes” from Landmark. “Anxious” is one first songs that Sutton has written for the group. It faces issues dealing with social anxiety with lyrics such as “I see those friendly faces but they only make me anxious” and “Don’t you know you’re not to blame for feeling.” While the song is written on a tricky subject, the lyrics bring comfort to the listener with a bright timbre. This is the first time that the band has really focused on the vulnerability of their own mental health in their music.
Leading single “Bambi” is a playful experimental track that is sure to get you singing with its jazzy influences. The band delivers a mystical experience with a slower synth and drum-machine based tune “Think It Over” which then transitions into possibly the most experimental song on the album, “Bubbles.” “Bubbles” seems to be a fan favorite, and has listeners immediately drawn into a new world that is lead by into a hard breakdown that opens a perfect opportunity to dance which is portrayed wonderfully live. A disclaimer to those listening for the first time with headphones, I suggest making sure your volume is lower when that distortion-heavy breakdown hits.
The group was inspired by movements such as “Me Too” to bring authenticity to their lyrics in order to make it relatable for the listener and for the fans to know them better. Hippo Campus have collaborated with several organizations throughout their career- from Planned Parenthood and Normal Parents, to Everytown for Gun Safety. Their music stands for nothing more than the importance of progressive love and safety.
All in all, Bambi dials a new tone for the bands sound and sets up for an epic and emotional live show that will leave fans swooned. With funky bass lines, distorted melodic sounds, heavy synth, up-beat drum fills, mesmerizing harmonies, experimental guitar riffs, and intense levels of vocal range, Hippo Campus does not disappoint on their sophomore album. They have taken a new turn for not only the sound, but the meaning of their music. The perfect fall album to blast anytime and anywhere, whether you want to dance, cry, or sing along- this is the new hottest record for you.