Album Review: Summer Camp’s Welcome To Condale

Summer Camp's Welcome To Condale Album Cover

Summer Camp's Welcome To Condale Album Cover

So, imagine a car. It’s a car from the 1980s.

Then imagine taking that car and putting in a hot rod engine from the 1960s. And then before taking that baby out on the road, you put a in new sound system and remodel the car’s interior to be modern and super fresh.

“Welcome To Condale” by the British synth-rock duo Summer Camp — at its best — is the musical version of that car: an ’80s synth-rock concoction written by brill-building era songwriting teams with the indie-rock consciousness of the new millennium.

At its worst, the album lulls with mediocre songs that sound like that ’80s car without all the modifications — just a stale relic of a decade some are trying desperately to forget.

Most of the album lies somewhere in between. You might find yourself grooving to the new wave, synthesized layers of a song like Summer Camp (yes, they did the thing where they have a song that’s also their band name) which has its moments, but we’re always waiting for the instantly memorable vocal hook and decade-blending you heard from the album’s opener and first single Better Off Without You.

Better Off Without You

Then comes the song Down, which immediately catches your ears with a fuzzy guitar and bass intro that wouldn’t be out of place on a newer Wavves record. The sweet melodies from Elizabeth Sankey and James Warmsley immediately remind us why we love them and put a smile on our face — that is, until we realize they’re singing “Cold nights, so sick of cold nights, of wasting all my life in a black house where I grew up.” The opening line illustrates their penchant for serving up our daily dose of depression in a way that keeps us tapping our feet and singing along with every word.

Down

The band’s debut album is a good start, but its inconsistency leaves one feeling they created half the album to be single-worthy and slapped the rest on as an after-thought.

Notable Tracks: Better Off Without You, Brian Krakow, Summer Camp, Down

Brian Krakow

Fresh Wet Paint’s Grade: B
Because when it’s on point, it’s on point.

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