online listen
a bit too much chill in the wave for me
nice female vocals with an updated She & Him
I prefer the retro

from the album - Better Off Without You

released Nov 8th, 2011

from all music


U.K. artists Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey started making music together as Summer Camp in October of 2009,
and their sunny wash of mellow C-86 pop was a timely fit with the lo-fi synth pop craze (coined “chillwave”) that
was sweeping the States. With their identity concealed, Warmsley and Sankey posted a short series of videos that
went viral due to their clever usage of old gauzy movie footage -- "Ghost Train" rearranged the tame scenes from
the 1969 X-rated film Last Summer, and "Round the Moon" borrowed clips from the 1970s romantic teen drama A Swedish
Love Story. Teen heartache in movies became an ongoing theme for Warmsley and Sankley, and as well as the
aforementioned songs, Summer Camp's debut EP included songs about “Veronica Sawyer” (Winona Ryder’s character in
Heathers) and “Jake Ryan” (the boy-crush of Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles). Moshi Moshi released
the Young EP in November of 2010. The duo recorded their second album with Pulp's Steve Mackey co-producing.
Welcome to Condale was released in late October of 2011 by Apricot and Moshi Moshi.

Album Review

Summer Camp’s 2010 EP Young signaled the arrival of a band with a really strong idea: taking '80s-influenced pop
songs and running them through the murky chillwave sound (lots of wobbly synths, vocal reverb, and tinny drum
machines) to end up with a sound that was akin to a David Lynch version of a John Hughes teen movie, a chilly,
weird take on the '80s bolstered by Elizabeth Sankey’s brilliant voice and very strong hooks. On their first full
LP, Welcome to Condale, Sankey is still astonishingly good, sounding like she could be a total diva but still
having the restraint to fit herself snugly into the constraints of the songs. What’s changed is that the overall
feel is less Lynch and more Hughes as the duo (Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley) has erased most of the warped weirdness
from Summer Camp's sound, playing it relatively straight throughout. There are songs that would fit right into the
track list of the Pretty in Pink soundtrack with nary a blink of an eye; “Better Off Without You,” “Summer Camp,”
“Welcome to Condale,” “1988,” and “Down” all have immediate hooks and a slickly punchy processed sound that are
perfectly '80s and unabashedly pop. Sankey and Warmsley sing together like their cinematic lives were on the line,
producer Steve Mackey (of Pulp) bathes them in chilly synths, and you can imagine Molly Ringwald mooning over
preppy guy as the songs play. These are the songs on the album that work the best; their lack of weirdness gives
the melody and emotion a chance to sink in. The moments where the band tries to expand its scope a little are less
successful. “Brian Krakow” shifts their sights to the '90s (My So-Called Life) and sports a cheesy rawk & roll
guitar riff that the Jesus and Mary Chain may have thought twice about using; “Done Forever” casts Sankey as a
torch singer but tacks on a corny drumbeat and sounds forced; “I Want You” tries for lyrical darkness (“I’d make
you love me so much you’d have to ask permission to breathe”) but ends up a little on the far side of silly; and
“Nobody Knows You” sounds like an overly dramatic Portishead castoff. These are likely growing pains of a band
looking to get bigger and more artistic instead of just doing what it does best even if it isn’t a step forward.
This urge is understandable, but sticking to their strengths would have made Welcome to Condale a better listen. As
it is, if you delete the missteps, you can cherry-pick a really strong, really simple '80s pop EP from the remains.

Track Listing

1. Better Off Without You
2. Brian Krakow
3. I Want You
4. Losing My Mind
5. Summer Camp
6. Nobody Knows You
7. Down
8. Welcome to Condale
9. Done Forever
10. Last American Virgin
11. Ghost Train
12. 1988