It may have only been a brief fling with mysterious secrecy, but it was enough to whip bloggers the world over into frenzy. But the problem with being a buzz band – and even being one that features the talent of Jeremy Warmsley – is that, eventually, you’ve got to go somewhere with it. And so Summer Camp emerge from months of whirlwind hype with their first proper release, Young EP.
And it’s good. Even without the back story and the short lived cat-and-mouse game played with journalists, these are songs that would’ve certainly seen the light of day on their own merit. They’re languid, pop drenched indie numbers with sparse, deliberate backing that draw influences from all over the spectrum. The problem appears to be that they don’t quite know what to do with them – for all the early talk of Anglo-fi, comparisons to chillwave are all but redundant. Though there are a few radiant backing beats, this is a world away from even the most mainstream of Washed Out tracks. Similarly, it’d be difficult to sell this as traditional girl/boy indie, the languid rhythms and off-kilter harmonies consistently failing to set the pulse racing.
However, it’d be fair to say that last thing the music industry needs right now is another Toro y Moi rip off, and with Slow Club having already perfected the pop two-piece, it’d be foolish to try competing with the Sheffield duo. But still, the air that Summer Camp have managed to fall between two stools is one that haunts the EP. ‘Ghost Train’ is the standout track, just as it has been throughout the band’s short career, a glorious ode to love through railway travel that creeps up on you with twinkling splendour. If it’s not flawless, it comes very close to being so, three precise minutes of yearning delivered with subtlety and nous.
That the other five songs don’t quite live up to that standard shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then. Opener ‘Round the Moon’ perhaps comes closest, but only adds to the feeling that Warmsley is massively underused throughout the remainder of the EP, as he dominates the track with his husky timbre, a swooning effort practically made for radio. Elsewhere, whilst the band definitely have a focus, it’s difficult to shake the feeling of being mildly underwhelmed. The lyrics accurately depict the drudge of being in your early twenties – feeling disconnected for everyone around you (‘Veronica Sawyer’), awkwardly still living with your parents (‘Was it Worth It’) and reminiscing missed opportunities (‘Why Don’t You Stay’) all feature as Elizabeth Sankley’s vocals repeatedly mine this rich seam with astute, truthful observations.
There is talent here, and it’s shown in glimpses more than anything else. The truth is that most bands wouldn’t have to deal with this kind of pressure on their first release, and the duo should be proud of what they’ve achieved. It’s a mishmash of ideas that comes dangerously close to working, an EP that refuses to be boring in spite of its flaws. However, rather than their masterpiece, this should be seen as work in progress; there’s some fine tuning needed before they truly live up to the superlatives thrown at them early in their career. They’re on the verge of something brilliant, but at the minute it’s difficult to ascertain what.