Review Summary: More than likely released on a whim, Hippo Campus' latest collection of recording sessions provides insight into their process on top of 9 very well executed tracks. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
On the disc for a DVD, there often tends to be some form of "bonus content" containing, bloopers / extras / behind the scenes from the recording of the film. Hippo Campus' latest release "Demos II", like its predecessor "Demos I", is the analogous behind the scenes content from the recording of the band's latest LPs. However unlike the DVD bonus content which is often just a shell of the full thing, "Demos II" provides the listener a wealth of quality.
Accompanying the 9 songs is a tangible insight into Hippo Campus' writing and recording process which gives the album some nice context and some grounding. As such, the demos come with noticeably Lo-Fi production especially when compared to "Bambi" and "landmark". While this may not be for everyone it really does work to the advantage of the album, where songs like No Poms
and Cellar Door
retain a noisy-yet-playful trait that may not have been present had the album been over-produced. That trait is really important to remember when listening to "Demos II": not once does it try to take it self seriously. You're not listening to a Swans or Phillip Glass record here. Each track is relatively sparse, ditching the electronic drums from some of "Bambi" in favour of a slightly distorted, slightly detuned acoustic kit in tracks like Chapstick
and Elephant Boys
. The guitars are mainly playing chords with some loose shoegaze-y melodies layered on top and the vocal performance from Luppen is as great as ever. Each element melds so well together to craft some really engaging and insanely catchy tracks that all sound excellent despite the production style and iffy cohesion.
To me, "Demos II" sounds like 4 guys in a room writing music and enjoying themselves. Realistically, what more could you want from a band that released an LP last year, and has been touring since. While not all the results are stellar there is definitely a huge amount of enjoyment to be found from this release, and is a no-brainer if you're already fan of Hippo Campus.