"A story of adolescence and growth"
The much anticipated debut album Landmark was released by Hippo Campus on February 24, 2017. After two successful E.P.s, the indie-rock quartet took on a new, divergent sound with their record. Surprisingly, none of the songs from “Bashful Creatures” or “South” were featured on Landmark, as the band took on a more mature sound with 13 songs.
The opening track, “Sun Veins”, is a short cacophony that leads a smooth transition into “Way It Goes”. This upbeat, bright song is reminiscent of the songs from their former E.P.’s with its cheery verses. The bouncy guitar strumming is used in the majority of the songs for Landmark, making the record even more cohesive. It would be wrong to play these songs out of order as they blend seamlessly from one track to the next.
“Monsoon” stood out the most for me and was my personal favorite off the album. Luppen uses a poetic twist of lyrics as he sings “Unlike a sky copious with death/ Precipitation of heart and head/ Should wash the rest of her youth away”. This heavy song portrays themes of grief and survivor’s guilt as the haunting verse “It should’ve been me” plays on a loop over a melancholy tune. Bon Iver and James Blake were influences for this track. “Poems” was another slow song with serene instrumentals, a vast contrast to the other buoyant tracks on this record.
This album does feature a varied mix of songs as we go from “Vines”, an upbeat 80’s sounding track with synth beats and bittersweet verses to “Epitaph”, a wistful song looking back on a past relationship. The conflicting verses stand out on this track as Luppen sings ”I need nothing more than my problems/ Just let me know when you've found them/ You've got tact and I've got bravado/ I'm a ghost and you are a shadow”. These two songs highlight the band’s growth as musicians, establishing that the group has progressed from their teenage years in Minnesota.
Another favorite was the explosive and final track, “Buttercup”. Although the song placement in the tracklist would have sounded better with a slower song after “Interlude” to finish off the album, this fast-paced and in-your-face track stands out among the upbeat songs before it. The quartet all belt out the final chorus among intense guitar-riffs, giving edge to this layered track. This infectious song finishes off the album and leaves you wanting to listen to Landmark all over again.
Overall, Landmark is a well-produced and integrated composition. Jake Luppen (vocals/guitar), Whistler Allen (drums/vocals), Zach Sutton (vocals/bass) , and Nathan Stocker (guitar/vocals) have been able to create a unique and timeless sound that only Hippo Campus could pull off. Their summery and reminiscent songs tell a story of their adolescence and growth.