BEST OF 2011 – 30. Summer Camp – Welcome To Condale

Jeremy Warmsley had a relatively brief solo career, including two delightful solo albums, which proved notable for one particular song at the very least. ‘If He Breaks Your Heart’, with the charming line “If he breaks your heart, I will break his legs,” is a twitchy little tune, capturing the sense of someone not entirely at ease in their own skin. Despite the deadpan menace of the vocals, this sense that Warmsley knew he didn’t quite fit in wasn’t just there on this song but during his live shows too which were, perhaps because of this, a joy to behold. And yet, he now belongs. Both musically and romantically, Warmsley has found his partner in NME journo Elizabeth Sankey. Having recently admitted that he never wanted to be a solo artist, he seems much happier with a playfully flamboyant Sankey centre stage.

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Musically, the album takes a lot of its cues from the Eighties, with some delicious layers of fuzz laid atop. The fact that half of this album would fit on the Back To The Future soundtrack is, in my book, no bad thing. Glorious singalong hooks and unashamed sass dominate, something which Warmsley was never previously known for. Indeed, the true might of their combined majesty is neatly captured in the wonderful ‘couple-at-war’ grudge match ‘Losing My Mind’. The stutteringly repetitive vocal line in the verse is simple but effective and as both voices combine on “this house isn’t big enough for the both of us, if you want to leave then I know you must” the track really takes off. Summer Camp’s capacity for pop hooks and occasional light touches of genius is showcased perfectly here. The drum machine breakdown prior to each chorus is one of my favourite musical moments of they year.

Early single ‘Ghost Town’ has been dusted down and polished up wonderfully while ‘Nobody Knows You’ unleashes Sankey’s gloriously unexpected glam howl. Distorted drums and vocals conjure a Yeah Yeah Yeahs who don’t take themselves quite so seriously. The enigmatic menace which is largely sweetened during ‘Losing My Mind’ is given full reign here and it’s a rather impressive find on a debut album.

Having been partly funded via the Pledge Music route – currently hosting campaigns from two Just Played faves: Ellen & The Escapades and Tom Williams & The Boat – my album also came with a demos disc which is rounded out by a lo-fi take on ‘Christmas Wrapping’ which finally confirmed what Sankey’s vocal style often reminds me of. Yep, that effortlessly languid delivery which has made this festive ode an enduring classic can be heard at points during ‘Welcome To Condale’ although, unlike The Waitresses, there’s rather more to her voice besides.

There have been several cracking indie pop albums of note this year, and I feel compelled at this point to give nods to Slow Club and M83 who have both just missed out on this list, but few are as consistently joyous as this one. Seek it out and keep it on hand as a guaranteed pick-me-up.

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