Gene Tierney in “Leave Her To Heaven” (1945)
Summer Camp first slithered into the collective music conciousness as one of those mysterious quasi-anonymous buzz bands, appearing on every blog from here to Toyko. The gimmick at the time was they were a group of Swedish teenagers who just happened to have the formula for perfect synth-pop; the truth was a little less “fun”, as the band were eventually unmasked as indie-folk star Jeremy Warmsley and sometime NME scribe Elizabeth Sankey. Their debut album Welcome To Condale, released last year, was a rose-tinted soundtrack to a non-existent American town you’d see in a John Hughes film, but Always sees the band jump back in time, in terms of influences, and forward in terms of talent.
Weighing in with five tracks, Always moves Warmsley & Sankey away from the mid-’80s sound and toward what sounds very much like a modern Blondie. The opening one-two of “Life” and “Always” will have you believing Ms Harry & co are offering ghostwriting services to the indie world; the title track in particular could and should be an indie club classic on the level of “Atomic”. It’s unexpected but Odd Future member Pyramid Vritra pops up on the slinky, sexy “City” (which recalls the bright neon lights of the Drive soundtrack) and whilst it’s a collaboration you’d never imagine working, the two acts fit together surprisingly well.
“Hunt” swings very close to being some sort of neo-disco, with Warmsley putting down some Nile Rodgers-esque guitars riffs and Sankey growling her way to alternative pin-up status. It’s really quite impressive stuff, as is “Outside”, the final track on the EP. Drifting more towards what we’ve come to expect from Summer Camp; it’s woozy, warm, romantic, and it possesses sneakily massive pop hooks, but it seems more assured of itself than most of the band’s previous material. A step-forward in confidence is exactly what the pair needed, and it’s going to take them towards being one of the biggest cult acts in the country.
The cast of Sesame Street caricatured by Al Hirschfeld.