‘LP3’: Just the right amount of weird
Kate Casper | Thursday, February 10, 2022
The Minnesota-based indie pop/rock band Hippo Campus released a new album, “LP3,” last weekend — their first full-length project since 2018. The album follows up on the edgier sound and subject matter from their 2021 EP “Good Dog, Bad Dream.” Releasing four singles in advance of the 10-track album, listeners knew what to expect when pressing play on “LP3” — songs with a mix of gloom and funk, grumbly vocals, gritty production and an exploration of topics beyond romance. “LP3” is the epitome of how Hippo Campus continues to push the boundaries of production and lyricism.
Other popular indie bands like Beach Fossils and COIN have sounds that they rarely stray from, but Hippo Campus is constantly reinventing themselves while maintaining the same die-hard fanbase. They do this through their consistency with aesthetics, lyricism and other musical elements.
The album starts off with “2 Young 2 Die,” an existentialist song about everyone’s self-perceived invincibility. The synthesizer, use of autotune in the bridge and beat drop, complete with quirky production and trumpets, makes the song feel a bit jarring, but not in a bad way. It only strengthens the ethos of the song, which is about confusion and discerning bigger questions of life.
“Blew Its” starts off with a funk sound reminiscent of a Glass Animals track. There is an urgency in the instrumentation, with constant changes in the pacing of the song, paired with frontman Jake Luppen’s smooth vocals. The lyrics seem to describe angst, as shown by lyrics like “Depressive when you’re moody,” which later turns to “Impressive when you’re moody.” The bridge is arguably one of the best I’ve ever heard. It is muffled, yet fast-paced, and the lyrics are hardly audible but for the expletives, which enhance the moody tone of the song.
“Ashtray,” starts with a classic Hippo Campus sound, reminiscent of songs from their debut EP “Bashful Creatures.” Complete with sunny, surrealist lyrics like “Asleep at the wheel like a drunk truck driver,” it is clear this song pulls from the artistry evident in the band’s past work. These vivid lyrics contrast with honest, relatable comments like “What’s good for you ain’t always easy.” This song feels self-aware in its lyricism but anthemic in style and sound. It’s one of the best songs on the album.
“Boys” is a song inspired by a trip Luppen took to New York after a rough night at a party. This song also explores Luppen’s sexuality, as is evident in the chorus where he sings “kissing boys.” This is the first Hippo Campus song that explicitly explores queerness, but it’s a theme in “LP3.” In “Semi Pro,” the lyrics “Always played for both teams” is used in the song within the context of an extended metaphor about sports, but could also be referring to the common phrase used to describe sexuality. Beyond these overtones, I find the song to be vivid, vibrant, and fun, as is shown in the storytelling of the chorus, “Got hungover from your words / Same New York, it’s the worst / All these nights are a blur / Going broke, make it rain.” This song encapsulates the feeling of being young, wild and free while figuring yourself out.
The last song on the album is “Understand,” a sentimental track that sounds like the musical equivalent of golden hour. It slows down the pace of the album, making it the ideal final track. Setting up the tone in the first verse, Luppen sings, “Driving like a bride in a newly married way.” The song is giddy and blissful, describing a relationship that at times is confusing but always beautiful. “I don’t care what we are, it just has to work” are potentially some of my favorite lyrics of all time. Furthermore, the use of the name Ada makes the song feel even more intimate. This song is one you can skip or bike ride to in the summer with the “Warm Glow” of the sun pouring over you. It is remarkable.
This album was not love-at-first-listen for me, but a couple of replays has made it one of my favorite Hippo Campus projects. The self-awareness and honesty in the lyrics, combined with the quirky production elements, make for a pinnacle Hippo Campus listening experience.
Artist: Hippo Campus
Label: Grand Jury Records
Favorite tracks: “Ashtray,” “Boys,” “Understand”
If you like: Glass Animals, Kid Cudi
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5