Hippo Campus' "Wasteland" EP is Funky, Fresh... and Country?
Artist: Hippo Campus
Genre: #indiepop #indierock
Sub-Genres: #countrypop #poprock
Label: Grand Jury Music
Non-Airable Tracks: Yippie Ki Yay
Hippo Campus has been experimenting with their sound since the release of their last EP, "Good Dog, Bad Dream", in 2021. The use of synthesizers in some of their newer singles shifted the indie rock band more towards indie pop/experimental. This shift wasn't always appreciated by older fans, but nonetheless the changes only helped the band grow as they tested out their interests. "Wasteland", on the other hand, sparks a new era for the band. The EP has hints of the classic "Hippo Campus sound" (songs prior to the "Good Dog, Bad Dream" EP) but with country undertones. Each track is tied together with country-esk names and Jake Luppen's voice formed a twinge of a country accent to go along with it, matching the EP's theme. Needless to say, this was the last thing I expected Hippo Campus to produce, but I never new how much I needed this EP until they released it.
"Kick in the Teeth" was the first released single prior to the EP, and in my opinion this track is the most "country" out of them all ("Honeysuckle" may be tied). The song is about someone missing and reminiscing about their significant other (classic love song), but compares the feelings to a lonely cowboy who feels as if they were kicked in the teeth. Straight forward, but the repetitive chorus will get stuck in your head like no other.
The second single that they dropped was "Yippie Ki Yay", my personal favorite on the EP. I binged this song nonstop after it was released, and it has the same ear worm effect that older Hippo Campus' songs have on me. The lyrics are also more metaphorical and harder to pick apart. From what I'm gathering, though, it's about someone who regrets a mistake they've made but are constantly reminded of it, so they hope/look for anyway to escape that pain.
The third and final single before the release, "Moonshine", was the most anticipated by fans. The band had tested out the song at shows, so people were already aware of what it would sound like which created hype behind the EP's release. Besides that, the recorded version is amazing, and Jake's synthesized vocals have been removed in the bridge unlike the live version. Overall, the song is a close second to "Yippie Ki Yay" for me. The song seems to be about a one-night stand where one person wants it to be more, and they think about every moment they had with that person.
The last two tracks on the album, "Honeysuckle" and "Probably", don't disappoint and I can't wait to listen to them more. "Honeysuckle" has strong instrumentals and messages about everything changing in one's life which I appreciate, and I feel the more I'll listen to this song the more I'll like it. It's very upbeat with a catchy chorus with fun lyrics scattered within the verses. "Probably", though, adds a slowness to the album that feels like releasing a breath you've been holding in for too long. It's a refreshing break, the vocals are beautiful, and it talks about the worry of never loving someone the same as you did someone else (probably*). This chorus will indubitably get stuck in your head, and is such a peaceful song to listen to at night.
Whether you're a die-hard Hippo Campus fan or just someone who appreciates indie music, this EP definitely deserves a listen. It reshapes what the genre can bring to the table, and it's either something you'll love or skip. I enjoy the new path the band has paved, and I hope they carry on sounds from this EP in later releases, as well.
Dutch Criminal Record
Yippie Ki Yay
Kick in the Teeth
Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth McCluskey
Date of Review: April 16, 2023