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Summer Camp
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  • The London duo Summer Camp (Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley) began their career as a warped, '80s-loving bedroom pop project; sometimes they were even a bit chillwavey. Their first album, 2011's Welcome to Condale, erased all the warp from their mix and amped up the glitz, spinning from one super-slick interpretation of a pop style to the next. Unfortunately, the iffy moments outnumbered the strong, though those moments where it all came together in shiny, happy blasts of pop were lots of fun. Fast-forward to their next record, 2013's Summer Camp, and the duo have gone all out pop this time, giving the songs a brightness that's almost blinding, and hooks that are so sharp you don't even notice them until you discover you're bleeding. The synths, the guitars, the drums, the vocals, the samples that pop up like pink frosting -- are all well polished and tidy, and all are perfectly placed for maximum pop pleasure. Sankey's voice is especially featured, as it should be. Her ringing tone is the album's highlight whether she's digging deep into a slow ballad, shouting from the rooftops, or shimmying through a disco-fied dance number. The formula the band uses on the record is a familiar one in 2013; indeed, a couple weeks before Summer Camp was released the similarly pop-focused band HAIM was all anyone could talk about. But when the formula works for Summer Camp, it really works. Songs like the low-key and dreamy "The First Time" or the pounding dance-pop track "Crazy" feel like pop hits beamed down from the heavens, with the production, song, and performance all combining in glossy perfection. Even the songs that just miss that rarified level, like "Night Drive" or the wonderfully happy and sad "Keep Falling," are great pop songs that most bands would kill for. ~ Tim Sendra
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