Review Summary: If you like bands like the Aquabats, Less Than Jake, Madness and The Cars, make sure to check out the Hippos. I recommend starting with this album.
This past week I was able to get a special treat from the past. The year 1999 was about the time I started listening to ska; that would put me back in the 6th grade. Third wave ska was in its prime at that time. Catch 22 just release Keasbey Nights
, Reel Big Fish was riding their success and Less Than Jake was as big as ever. If you were anyone who took the time to look for more 3rd wave ska, the Hippos were sure to cross your path.
The Hippos brought an upbeat fusion of ska with something more than just punk strafing them away from the generic ska band. On the album Heads Are Gonna Roll
they were as much a pop-rock band as a ska band. Also, one instrument in particular separated them even farther than other Californian acts; the synthesizer.
Starting off the album is a blast of catchy horns. Lost It
is a pop rock song is sure to get you rump shaking and singing along. The highlight on the album, Wasting My Life
, is where the synthesizer takes a lead position. The horns come in on the chorus and just make it even more catchier. Later there is even a very fine synthesizer solo that will have you drooling.
Other favorites on the album include songs The Sand
, He Said
, and a Burt Bacharach cover of Always Something There to Remind Me
. The Sand is a great ska song with one of my favorite bass lines on the album. He Said features my favorite lyrics. It involves a lovely story about meeting a man with a million stories to tell. The song also includes a Farfisa organ. You might recognize that instrument from the Strangler’s Golden Brown.
The songs that they write could fit anywhere from the 80s pop era to the time of 90’s pop punk. One trend is that every song will not disappoint. Everything is a unique taste of pop-rock or ska. Many of the songs cover topics like girls and love, nothing too deep here. Even though the lyrics aren’t thought provoking they are well written and work well.
There is one last comment on the lead singer. He has a unique voice for the genre and he is one of my favorites. One of my friends said that he kind of sounds like Weird Al. And I’m not a Weird Al fan at all, so I don’t believe it will bother many people. He uses his voice in many different ranges, keeping the songs from not blending together. In the song Struggling
he sounds like Otto from the Simpsons on the verse, where on the chorus he returns to his smooth poppy voice.
If you like pop punk, new wave or ska, or if you like bands like the Aquabats, Less Than Jake, and The Cars, make sure to check out the Hippos and I recommend starting with Heads Are Gonna Roll
. Well produced tracks throughout with extremely catchy vibes that you just don’t hear any more.