By Sara Nigro
The indie rock band Hippo Campus released their fifth EP, “Wasteland,” on Friday, April 14. Following a western theme, the EP consists of five tracks and tells a story of love and loss through their usual upbeat melodies.
Hippo Campus has four members who met and formed the band in St. Paul, Minnesota and were eventually signed by Grand Jury Records and Transgressive Records. They released their first EP ten years ago in 2013 and have had several albums come out since then. Known for their song “Buttercup” from their 2017 album “Landmark,” they have gained a large following in the past couple of years.
The songs on “Wasteland” represent themes of carefree love, fictional stories and loss of love. Overall, it seems to fit perfectly in the shorter format, rather than a full album. It also feels similar to other pieces of their discography — but while similar, it is done well.
Prior to the release, two of the songs, “Yippie Ki Yay” and “Kick in the Teeth” were released as singles. Compared to the others, I ranked these two lowest when deciding my favorites.
Similar to each other, they tell abstract stories and follow a more country theme than the others. “Yippie Ki Yay” reminds me of a summary of a western movie while “Kick in the Teeth” sings about loneliness through a similar lens. The latter features the lyrics, “I'm about as lonely as a cowboy can be / And a night without you is a kick in the teeth.”
“Moonshine” is fun and catchy: the perfect song to roll your windows down and drive to in the middle of June. It’s a love song in disguise — one that doesn’t come off romantic, but the lyrics reveal it as carefree and intimate. The chorus ends with, “Southern belle, springtime, dewdrop sweetheart / Loving you is all I wanna do, yeah,” sung in an upbeat tune.
“Honeysuckle” presents a stark contrast from the previous songs, telling a story of letting go. It also follows a storytelling style of songwriting, accompanied by their signature soft rock. It doesn’t stand out as much as the others, but is still a nice addition to the middle of the EP.
My favorite on the album is the fourth track, “Probably,” a song that details the story of a past love. It starts with a pretty introduction, consisting of an acoustic guitar accompanied by the soft voice of vocalist Jake Luppen.
The overarching theme is of a lost love from the perspective of the narrator, who makes assumptions about their past partner throughout the lyrics. This song lyrically is very beautiful, which is further emphasized by the simple melody.
Using the title of the song consistently throughout the lyrics, Luppen sings, “Chances are / He's probably kissing her like I used to / Probably missin' her like I still do every single day, probably.”
Consisting of impressive production and heartfelt lyrics, “Wasteland” demonstrates Hippo Campus’ dedication to their sound, while also holding their own to attract new listeners as well.