BAMBI, 180G Black Vinyl LP, Digital Download Included!
Named after lead vocalist Jake Luppen’s supportive aunt Bambi (not the deer), Hippo Campus’ sophomore album is an experimental stew of distortion, questioning and answering, and the band’s individualism finally breaking free.
“Four individuals under the name hippo campus,” couldn’t be more accurate. They hit their target with this one, and it speaks to their growth as a band. Hearing lyrics written by both bassist Zach (“Doubt”) and lead guitarist Nathan (“Why Even Try,” “Bubbles”) coupled with dominant synths on almost every track proves how far their talents can spread.
On June 12, 2018, the band released the single, “Passenger,” as an unexpected surprise to fans along with the announcement of a fall 2018 tour. “[I]t ain’t gonna be what you’re expecting. but in a good way,” they tweeted, sending fans into a frenzy of emotion at the prospect of a new and different album. Right away, it’s clear that “Passenger” sets the precedent for the new direction taken on Bambi. With an interlude and outro like butter and some minor instrumental distortion throughout, it’s the perfect song to hint to fans that they’re trying something new.
Bambi definitely leans heavily on the pop side, but fans of their melodic guitar riffs need not worry. The records’ strength is its ability to balance ‘new’ and ‘old’ sounds. For listeners looking to hear their ‘old’ sound, refer to tracks “Honestly,” “Golden,” and “Why Even Try” to get lost in their guitar melodies once again.
The rest of the album is a testament to their experimentation, with distorted vocals, guitars, and synth drum beats throughout. Fans of “Sun Veins” from their first album landmark will recognize these techniques, but the band really unpacks them on Bambi.
“Bubbles” has a jarring last bridge that sounds like your speakers are breaking. The genius opening track, “Mistakes,” puts you in a chapel listening to Gregorian chants, while simultaneously placing you in the passenger seat of a spaceship about to enter a new dimension (especially with the vocal switch around 1:40). “Doubt” has a smooth guitar solo during the bridge featuring Corey Wong from funk group Vulfpeck that shows just how committed Hippo Campus is to letting go of the reins. “Golden” has a chilling transition into some of the best guitar licks heard from them in a while.