Bouncing around the blogosphere since posting its first songs online, the London-based Summer Camp has steadily created buzz for itself, and finally releases its debut album, Welcome To Condale. As Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley told The Independent, much of their music is inspired by classic John Hughes ’80s movies, sometimes using sound clips from movies of that era at the beginning of songs. And the California town that listeners are being welcomed to is a lot like Hughes’ Shermer, IL, in that it is also fictional. Sankey even put together a scrapbook to accompany the album that tells the stories of characters in the songs. If all of that doesn’t make Summer Camp cute enough already, Sankey and Warmsley also admitted that they are not only partners in music, but also in life. Though Summer Camp started out relatively secretive and mysterious, the word is finally out: This couple makes ’80s-tastic dance-pop jams that hold their own outside of the arena of trendy retro throwbacks.
With vocals reminiscent of Blondie’s “Call Me,” Sankey belts sugary sweet pop vocals with a less inviting message. “Stop calling me late at night/To talk about what’s wrong, I don’t care anymore…You’re so annoying when you whine/You’re always wasting my time,” cries Sankey on “Better Off Without You,” as a dance beat leads to sparkling synth noises and backup vocals from Warmsley on the chorus. “I Want You” employs synths that sound sort of Eurythmics-ish, but the sound is updated with the addition of Sankey’s wishful and sensual tone as she cries the title over and over again. Breaking from the retro feel a little, Sankey and Warmsley’s vocals play off of one another on “Loosing My Mind,” the much-needed break-up song on a release that is so centered on youth culture. Distorted percussion, innocent whistling and echoing vocals give way to a chorus mourning the loss of feeling and the acceptance of someone leaving that comes with any relationship split.
One of the best songs off Condale by far is “Down,” a track that has all the synths, fuzzy guitar licks and shoulder-pad-wearing fun of the Hughes era, as well as the irresistible backup vocals “My life, my life/Your life, your life.” And it would be a shame not to mention the trippy Halloween-themed video for “Down,” made entirely out of animated gifs, including one where Sankey and Warmsley disintegrate and reappear on a couch over and over. The title track explains what coming home to Condale would be like, going through typical scenes of suburbia to muted keyboard melodies, bursts of tambourine, and snippets of guitar. Amping up the ’80s vibe even more on the aptly titled “1988,” Summer Camp closes out Condale with a clapping beat, Sankey’s soaring vocals and constant background singing of “88, 88, 88.”
There have been an influx of ’80s-inspired duos since Summer Camp first started floating around online. But Sankey and Warmsley still have a lot to offer on Welcome To Condale, with Sankey’s large vocal range that easily adapts to the feel of each song and Warmsley’s ability to match her perfectly in background singing.