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Album Review
Welcome To Condale

Welcome To Condale
by Summer Camp


Review Date
Friday 25th November
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

On their debut album Welcome to Condale Summer Camp invent a brave, old world with track after track of unashamedly throwback pop songs.

There’s an argument out there that The Teen Movie died with John Hughes. Smoking inside, anthemic soundtracks, James Spader calling Molly Ringwald a bitch, Molly Ringwald, and a black and white approach to rich V poor, pretty V ugly, smart V dumb; Hughes had the unique ability to reflect a set of mundane social indicators back at society in a way that made it look glossy and exciting, no doubt partly thanks to the reflection from that shiny, shiny polyester. Tina Fey’s Mean Girls is the closest the naughties have come but Lohan ain’t no Ringwald and Kelis got absolutely nothing on Simple Minds.

“(Don’t you) Forget About Me” is not only the song that Summer Camp wish they had written, it’s the song they’ve referenced through every eighties banger on their debut full length album Welcome to Condale in some way or another.

For 15 year olds, everything is emotional. Don’t get invited to a party – emotional. Shamed by a teacher in class – emotional. Breaking up after two weeks of dating – emotional. “Stop calling me late at night / To talk about what’ wrong” are the opening lyrics of the album and track “Better Off Without You” and introduce the album’s lyrical shtick. It’s a heady, energetic finger to everyone and is perpetuated throughout the album on tracks like ‘Nobody Knows You’ (‘Nobody knows you / When you’re down and alone’), ‘I Want You’ (‘You’re so smart / You break my heart’) and ‘Done Forever’ which means exactly what it says.

If the words were to stand alone in purpose the results would be somewhat empty; you really have to put your back into teen angst. Summer Camp have wholly embraced this cause by imbuing the musicality with electric eighties energy. Futuristic, overbearing synthesizers on ‘Nobody Knows You’ provide a steel wool blanket for Elizabeth Sankey’s snarky lyrics to nestle within, a naive whistling melody drives home the meaning of ‘Last American Virgin’ while ‘Brian Krakow’ (named so after a dorky My So Called Life character) manages to marry a Britney Spears chorus (‘If you want to have me that’s fine / If you say you love me, you’re mine’) to Ric Ocasek sonic swagger.

Summer Camp have invented a nostalgic world on Welcome to Condale and pulling so many references from the past has downsides. The album - while enthusiastic - gets tired from lacking newness – there’s only so many times you want to question where you’ve ‘heard that before’ on one album. Furthermore nostalgia more generally - being the linch pin of indie pop of-late – is losing its touch; the thought of synthesizers, sepia tones and palm trees-as-cover-art no longer presents the thoughtful independence it recently did.

Welcome to Condale is fastidious in its attention to recreating an emotional past. Next time Summer Camp may just want to dip one foot into the future.


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