If Summer Camp’s 2011 debut full-length, Welcome to Condale, was the London-based duo’s “love letter to the days of being a teenager” and an ode to the 1980s, then the Always EP is a documentation of the summer a few years into college, the one where you don’t quite fit in at home anymore, and your friends have moved away, and you spend the hot July days pining for the fall semester. The bright, blue eyeshadow and wavy, blonde hair have been traded in for thick, black eyeliner and a straightener. Elizabeth Sankey’s vocals have a new edge, and Jeremy Warmsley has toned down the bubbly beats that made Condale so catchy. While Summer Camp may not be at home in the beach-ready anthems that characterized their previous releases anymore, they ultimately wear this transitional phase well.
The duo has shed a lot of the excess sunshine, but the aspects of Condale that made it so irresistible,the knack for melody and the earnest tales of young love, still find a home on Always. The lyrics sound torn from the pages of a young girl’s diary, repeating “We’ll always be together” enough times to hopefully make it come true. The sweet pairing of Sankey and Warmsley’s vocals cascade into choruses, “oohs” cooing throughout the EP, everything working to get toes tapping and melodies lodged on permanent loop in your head.
What’s different, though, is epitomized in the middle of “City”: a rap verse, followed by Sankey singing about finding a job. And behind “Hunt”‘s bouncy, dance-friendly beat, she sounds genuinely vindictive. The EP’s strength lies in these surprises, because, unlike the majority of the artists in the sun-drenched, beachy pop genre, this collection of songs actually dabbles in the unexpected.
Despite the crossed-out legend “Everything changes when you get old” that welcomes you to the band’s website, the maturation evidenced throughout these five songs is undeniable. With age and time come change, and instead of clinging to the remnants of the Condale days, like Always closer “Outside” tries feebly to do, a full development of the potential in the cleaned-up beats and frill-free vocal performance of “Life” finding its way into the next record would be supreme.
Essential Track: “Always”