COLUMN: Hippo Campus hits the mark with their debut album


Cover art accompanied Hippo Campus' debut album "Landmark," which was released by Transgressive Records on Feb. 24.  Photo courtesy of Transgressive Records Buy Photos

In the field of psychology, the hippocampus is a small region in the brain associated with memory, particularly long-term memory. However, in the music world, Hippo Campus is a four-man band from St. Paul, Minnesota, that released its debut full-length album, “Landmark” in February. 

The indie-rock band consists of four members, Whistler Allen, Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker and Zach Sutton. They met in high school, and formed Hippo Campus in 2013. They released an EP, “Bashful Creatures” in 2015, before releasing “Landmark.” 

The album opens with “Sun Veins,” a relaxing track that makes me feel, and I swear this is the only way I can describe it, like I’m lying in the sun’s rays. It’s appropriately named, and it’s a great song to open the album with.

“Sun Veins” flows perfectly into my favorite song on the album, “Way It Goes.” The upbeat guitar mixed with the steady beat and soft hand clapping/finger snapping sounds, along with Jake Luppen’s voice is something magical.

This song makes me wish I was running through a field of flowers wearing a long, light-pink dress. The middle of the song has a beachy, angelic instrumental break before Luppen jumps back in.

“That’s the way it goes,” he sings, as the drums build back up to the dance beat.

The next song, “Vines” has the ultimate indie-pop feel to it. It starts with muffled drums, and everything becomes clearer just before Luppen begins to sing.

“I see meaning where you don’t,” he sings. “I see waves of pastel, orange and yellow paintings fire.”

Not only is the music beautiful, but the lyrics are also full of meaning. “Vines” was not on the preliminary back cover for this album and was one of the last to be added. I’m glad they decided to add it, and I'm even happier that it is the third song, because it sets the upbeat, indie tone for the album.

“Simple Season” is the fifth song on the album, and one I have enjoyed for many months. I’ve played it on my radio show on WIUX a few times, and whenever I feel the first notes of this song, I get a surge of happiness. 

The song itself just embodies happiness and makes me feel like I’m lying in the sand, watching the clouds above me pass by without a worry in the world. I always find myself whistling and singing along to this song.

“Tuesday” is very similar to “Simple Season,” but softer. “Simple Season” feels like you’re watching clouds, and “Tuesday” feels like you’re sitting in them. Luppen’s angelic voice sings along to a soft guitar, drums and a tambourine. 

“Sometimes I call it a Tuesday/Sometimes I call it the best day of my life,” he sings.

“Western Kids” is the seventh track on the album, and though I think it’s good, I also think it’s a little out of place. Amongst the indie-rock songs, this one gives more of a straight pop vibe.

“Boyish” is another one of my favorites on the album. The poppy beat and the loud intro make me feel ready to dance as soon as it begins. This song definitely feels like the type of song I would sing into my hairbrush while preparing for the day. The lyrics in this song make the inner poet in me feel giddy.

“There’s sunlight dripping off the apricot tree,” Luppen sings, as I envision the powerful, relaxing image that he just placed in my head. 

The album ends strong with “Buttercup,” a soft song that builds as it progresses.

“I’ll be fine on my own she said/I don’t need you inside my head,” Luppen sings as the feminist inside me is yelling "Yes, go girl, you tell him!"

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. The indie-pop, fast-paced songs flow together in a way that I can only describe as magical. 

If you’re a fan of Vampire Weekend’s sound or Smallpool’s upbeat energy, you’ll be a fan of Hippo Campus. 

I’ve liked Hippo Campus since the release of their EP “South” in 2015, and I think I’ll like them long after their final release, whenever that is. Hopefully it’s not anytime soon.   

The band will be in Indianapolis on Oct. 28 at the Deluxe, Old National Centre.


Listen to Hippo Campus. Remember?

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