Two years ago, amid hyped blogosphere speculation regarding their origins and personnel- “They’re from Brooklyn!”, “They’re from Sweden!”, “They’re a seven piece!”, “They probably have a drummer who stands up!”, “They must be cool as fuck!” – Summer Camp released the wonderful ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ to critical acclaim and further conjecture as to the nature of their then mysterious outfit. In a similar way The White Stripes did a decade or so before, Summer Camp wielded the early sense of mystery that reduces the press and fans alike to salivating indie prospectors; panning with feverish and wild-eyed ardour for any clues or indications as to who they are, where they come from and whether they know, or at least will tour with, Best Coast.
After the grand unveiling of the mysterious and enigmatic group failed to reveal a Brooklyn based Swedish seven piece, Summer Camp surprisingly, and deservedly, lost none of the hype and, lo and behold, an album followed; a collaboration between Summer Camp’s own Apricot Recording Company and the ultra cool Moshi Moshi Records.
A befittingly excellent album, Welcome to Condale combines fey indie pop with eighties synthesizers and drum machines with a similar confidence to that of The Radio Dept; the Swedish rumours were based in something, it would seem. Songs such as ‘Nobody Knows You’ show a particularly dark edge to the band: “Louis’ eyes are red and raw, Louis always cries” wails Elizabeth Samkey in the midst of melancholic, reverb soaked synths and drums; the raw, lo-fi production courtesy of Pulp’s Steve Mackey.
Indeed, the majority of the songs seem to have a shadowy undercurrent, the lyrics often harbouring uncertainty and resentment. Opener ‘Better Off Without You’ juxtaposes the bitterness and dislike often present at the end of a relationship (“it’s so embarrassing when you cry, you’re always wasting my time”) with some superbly uplifting hooks, whilst new single ‘Ghost Train’ combines sun drenched, eighties instrumentation and production with sad, lovelorn and heartfelt lyrics.
With the exception of a couple of tracks which lack the poignancy and song craft that the majority of the album enjoys, Welcome to Condale is a truly excellent effort; the best LP I’ve heard for a while. At once uplifting and joyous, bitter and miserable, Summer Camp’s time lurking in self imposed anonymity clearly paid off, and they have completely nailed it. Elizabeth and Jeremy are headed this way soon; catch them at The Jericho Tavern (15th November) before they climb up the ladder to the O2 next year.
Released on 31st October 2011 by Apricot Recording Company/Moshi Moshi Records