I wish I could be in Summer Camp. Lack of musical ability and pessimism preventing me from being near ‘lovely’ enough aside, the reality is that I’d never (ever) be able to pull off that darkly tinted sweetness, nor would I ever be cool enough to be part of indie’s most charming Mr and Mrs. Summer Camp for me, are the kind of band I would have pretended to be part of if I was an American teenager in the 80s. The type I’d buy short shorts behind my ‘mom’s back, so that I had appropriate attire for bedroom dancing to.
‘Always’ may not be quite the same as what we’ve heard from the duo before. There’s not as much of that dreamy Americana obsession that laced their first EP ‘Young’ and debut album ‘Welcome to Condale’, but there is something new and entirely interesting. Opening track ‘Life’ gives way to a more haunting side to Summer Camp, one that echoes with vulnerability and anxiety. Where did the teenage heartache projection of previous tracks like ‘Better Off Without You’ and ‘Losing My Mind’ go?! That small scale teen-pain appears to have grown up… and into something dark and threatening. Though don’t be mistaken, this is Summer Camp we’re talking about, they still cleverly trick you into looking past the disturbance of the lyrics and focusing on the fact that ‘Life’ and title track ‘Always’ are actually musical representations of spinning disco balls above 80s dancefloors.
Just as I was getting used to this new Summer Camp sound, R&B track ‘City’ comes along. R&B!… you say. Surprisingly brilliant, ‘City’ is the perfect midpoint, coolly offsetting disco-fuelled heart attacks. Is this Summer Camp growing up? As a fan of pretty much anything with dream-pop boy/girl vocals, I never thought this would be what I’d want and yet it is the perfect balance of slow R&B and typically beautiful vocals from Elizabeth Sankey.
I may have momentarily missed the innocence of the band’s early songs, but bands grow up and take new directions. Whether the EP will give way to a whole host of future disco classics, we will have to wait and see, but one thing is certain, Summer Camp appear incapable of producing anything less than lovely.