Release Date: May 26, 2015
Record label: Moshi Moshi Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
The songs on Summer Camp’s Bad Love describe relationships so familiar I can pin the names of boys I have had romantic misadventures with to each one. The banging disco-pop single ‘Bad Love’ is J, the guy who let me down, then I let down, then I let him let me down again even though I knew exactly what was coming. ‘You’re Gone’ is a fuzzed-out reflection on what it’s like to disappear into the feelings you have for someone who’s not so into you - it’s the memory of C, my first kiss, my first unrequited love, the first chips in my heart.
There’s always been a nostalgic edge to Summer Camp‘s music – that carefree nod to lazy, hazy summers, a longing for an idealised, John Hughes’ version of the ’80s rather than the actual bleak Thatcherite reality. For the duo’s third album, that nostalgia remains undimmed, but there’s a bittersweet side to the music that, although it’s always been there, seems to have been accentuated since the early days. For, as the song puts it, love hurts and love scars.
After one album that was stuck in the '80s and one that tipped too far in the direction of slick radio pop, Summer Camp's third album, and first to be self-produced, shows the band finally starting to forge some kind of unique identity. Bad Love starts off with a four-song segment that downplays their love of '80s pop, adds some '90s grit, and has a tougher, more exciting sound, bringing in fuzzy shoegaze guitars, punchy tempos, and impassioned vocals. It's a bracing start and at least one of the songs, the opening "Bad Love," sounds like a sure-fire hit single.
When it comes to pop music, less is often more. The best pop tracks are simple and powerful; be it a groovy drumbeat or a catchy melody, it usually takes just one small feature to really make a great pop tune. This could be a lesson for English duo Summer Camp, as their new album, Bad Love, has just too many things going on.The opening title track has layers of electronic sounds that end up sounding muddy, and it seems like they wrote too many lyrics for the melody, with vocalist Elizabeth Sankey fighting to get all the words in.
Much like Denver duo Tennis, Summer Camp‘s core is a married couple who founded their band on a sunshiney gimmick too twee to deny. Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley started Summer Camp under the (eventually revealed to be false) story that the band was the union of two former camp-mates reunited years later. And, much like Tennis, Warmsley and Sankey have had to work hard to establish an identity for themselves once the goodwill derived solely from their story’s charm ran out.