Release Date: Sep 9, 2013
Record label: Moshi Moshi Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It only seems like yesterday that Summer Camp suddenly appeared on MySpace (remember that, kids?) pretending to be a Swedish twee-pop collective, before suddenly unveiling themselves as Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley, a couple with a shared love of sweet synth-pop, film dialogue samples and so much love for John Hughes that you’d swear they were natives of Shermer, Illinois. The duo’s debut album, Welcome To Condale, was produced by Steve Mackey of Pulp, and was a perfect demonstration of how to create that holiest of holy grail – the perfect pop song. There were blissful choruses, bittersweet lyrics and clever storytelling elements threaded through all 12 tracks – it was, in short, one of the best, if strangely overlooked, albums of 2011.
Farewell to Condale, the ’80s teen-flick soundstage for Summer Camp’s brilliant rom-pop 2011 debut; welcome to the slick ’90s house club of their equally impressive second. Beats crack, throbs rise, synths tinkle, rave pianos mildly pound and Elizabeth Sankey’s candy-floss whinny weaves around pop hooks of a surprisingly troubled hue for a recently married duo – “Pick yourself up off the gravel/Brush off the blood as we unravel”. Instead, their post-marital bliss is in merging indie pop with the Daft Punk disco resurgence: witness the dizzying Kraftwood Mac of ‘Two Chords’ and the funk gleam of ‘Fresh’, which is up all night to get dumped.
The London duo Summer Camp (Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley) began their career as a warped, '80s-loving bedroom pop project; sometimes they were even a bit chillwavey. Their first album, 2011's Welcome to Condale, erased all the warp from their mix and amped up the glitz, spinning from one super-slick interpretation of a pop style to the next. Unfortunately, the iffy moments outnumbered the strong, though those moments where it all came together in shiny, happy blasts of pop were lots of fun.
Summer Camp have always had an interesting relationship with artifice and sincerity. Back when the woozy, effortlessly charming ‘Ghost Town’ swam around the blogs in 2010, the duo created a narrative of anonymity for themselves, spreading false rumours about the band being a bunch of kids who met at... (take a guess). Stepping from behind the MySpace stock images to reveal themselves as Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley, Summer Camp’s first full length was called Welcome to Condale – a fictional place populated by fictional characters.
With this eponymous release, Summer Camp sidesteps one pitfall of the second album by swapping fiction for something more real and closer to home. The debut LP from the UK duo of Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley, Welcome To Condale told the tale of an imaginary American small town. While Condale was all about fictional characters coming of age, the followup is about growing and maturing in the first person.
Describing his band's self-titled sophomore release, Jeremy Warmsley—who with wife Elizabeth Sankey make up the aggressively pleasant London indie pop outfit Summer Camp—said the pair were "glad to have songs that more closely represent us, our friends, and being alive in this decade. " These are things most young bands strive for, but in the case of Summer Camp, that last part is especially important. Latching onto the filter-friendly lo-fi trends that defined much of 2010 for their breakthrough EP Young, Warmsley and Sankey polished up their sound the following year with their varied but ultimately flat debut Welcome to Condale, a quasi-concept album that concerned itself with young love in a fictional California town.
It’s been roughly two years since Summer Camp dropped their long-awaited debut full-length ‘Welcome To Condale’ on the masses. It was a thoroughly enjoyable offering; a rose-tinted view of teenage nostalgia that epitomised their distinctive taste for John Hughes filmography and eighties-tinged pop. Now, with a notoriously difficult second album to traverse, will they opt for further sentimentality, or a complete departure in sound altogether?Well, it’s a bit of both it seems.
How would you like to remember the ubiquitous first time away from home experience immortalized in films such as The Babysitters Club and Camp Nowhere? For London-based duo Summer Camp, the memories are saccharine and nostalgic, recalling loves won and loves lost, and perhaps that feeling of inner joy after successfully creating a s’more. Since releasing their 2011 LP Welcome to Condale, Summer Camp’s Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley have continued to create their own little world of teenage nostalgia. DIY -zines, references to 80?s teen films and sending out random, 1970s found photographs, their approach borders on being all a bit much – especially their love for John Cusack.