Welcome to Condale, the imagined surroundings of this long-awaited debut release from one of the years greatest propspects, Summer Camp. Encapsulating every emotion that teenagers encounter in life, Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley have packaged love, loss and heartbreak into an audio delight that could soundtrack any 80s Bratpack movie.
Opening with the superb recent single ‘Better Off Without You’, an ode to every break up (and far more upbeat then miserably warbling All By Myself ala Bridget Jones). With its pleas of “Stop calling me / you’ve got to stop calling” and “I’m better off without / we both know it’s true” intertwined with insanely danceable guitars, its a wonder Summer Camp haven’t taken over the world yet. Followed by the excellent Jeremy led ‘Brian Krakow’ (any refence to My So Called Life should be celebrated in my eyes), drenched in handclaps and and its clear that the band mean business.
‘I Want You’ may have been affectionatly dubbed the stalker anthem of 2011, but there’s something deeper to it. Through lyrics like “You’re so smart / you break my heart/ I like you / and I think that if you thought about it you know that you’d like me too”, there is a yearning to Elizabeth Sankey’s voice, exemplifying those first crazy moments of love and lust that you experience as a teen. The call and response vocals on ‘Losing My Mind’ feels like the end of a releationship, so the the lyrics “You don’t love me like you used to” fits beautifully alongside the almost swooning guitars.
‘Nobody Knows You’, released alongside the launch of the bands Pledgemusic campaign, continues the darkness that started on ‘I Want You’. With lyrics like “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out”, the pair are stepping as far away from the styereotypically twee boy/girl duo as possible. ‘Welcome To Condale’ is fantastic with its refrain of “I’m coming home” alongside descriptions of the typical American suburb, my favourite of these being “its a great place to raise kids / but they never will grow up”. I don’t know about you, but I’m heading to Condale, especially if, as the band say, “it reeks of small-town pride”.
‘Ghost Train’ is instantly recognisable from the bands earlier release, be it minus John Hughes movie snippets this time. Catchy as ever, the hearwrenching “Slow train brought you to me / fast train sent you back” captures those fleeting joys in seeing a missing loved one, and sets it to a thundering soundtrack. ‘1988’ closes the album brilliantly. Chronicalling the relationship between a pair, from the tenderly touching chorus of “Hold on to me and I’ll hold on to you” to the demanding “We met in 1984 / you always seemed to want more / but I never gave it to you”, all set to a wonderous danceable beat. I’m holding out hope that this highlight of the album gets released if just to hear it everytime I go out, its the perfect upbeat ending to a truly lovely album. If you’re not the worlds biggest Summer Camp fan after Welcome To Condale, there’s frankly something wrong with you.