Album Review: Warm Glow by Hippo Campus

Noor Tannir
Staff Writer

Warm Glow EP cover art by Hippo Campus. Credits: Genius.

Hippo Campus introduced themselves in 2013, as an indie rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota. Hippo Campus was formed at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Earlier this fall, they released an EP called “Warm Glow”, which consists of 3 songs, “Baseball”, “Traveler”, and “Warm Glow”.

Despite the short length of the EP, a plethora of emotion and imagery is conveyed in the band’s latest project.

Known for their eclectic and all-embracing sound and their familiar effervescent tonality, they begin their EP with “Baseball”, which the audience has heard before in the band’s live performances.

The track was set to be the final track on their last LP, “Landmark”, which was released in February. Perhaps the track acts as a transition that ends their LP in February and introduces their three-track project.

In “Baseball”, vocalist Jake Luppen takes on the second verse of the track comparing the band’s lyrics to the art of American Abstract Expressionist painters Jackson Pollock and Jules Olitski. This connection insinuates a certain connotation regarding the band’s lyrics.

It addresses that although it appears as though the band’s work has no solid meaning, as critics may claim, a deeper meaning is revealed as one listens closely. He ends his verse with the line, “though the tongue tastes good, my grammar’s falling from the cheeks,” which fully embodies Hippo Campus’ take on recuperating abstract art practices and appropriating it into their lyrics, sound, and identity.

Although the band has a specifically cheerful and uplifting identity in their music, they incorporate artistic, social, and emotional atmospheres in their sound, making references to feelings of anxiety, depression, and melancholia.

Before the chorus in “Baseball”, Luppen sings, “my bones are tired of the body that woke me up today”.

Hippo Campus is a band that addresses emotion, however disguised in their bright and cathartic sound, in ways that are, as they mention, similar to abstract art practices.

“Traveler”, the second track on the EP, addresses a certain internal struggle. The song tackles themes of family, weakness, dreaming, love, and travel. The song hints at a lack of stability, embodying a spatial traverse that causes a certain disappearance. A line that exemplifies the track wholly is the song’s opening refrain, where Luppen sings, “feelings so fleeting, yet never compelling, the thoughts I quelled to last.”

The EP, cathartic, yet emotional, encompasses the listener in a mixture of feelings. Their audience are found in a state they often are when it comes to Hippo Campus: they are overjoyed with the tunes that the band plays, yet they are found in a frame of empathy with regards to the band’s honest and unapologetic lyrics.

That being said, the last track, which the EP is named after, perfectly describes the band’s identity. The song insinuates a running theme of color, the mentioning of pastels, the colors of nature in the summer, the sky’s specific shade of blue, “rose-set roads”, and “wave-swept gold”. The song ends with a reassuring “peace sign, getting by. People, we’ll be alright”.

The band, in their closing track, provides you with exactly what it is that they claim. The EP truly embodies you with a name so perfectly descriptive of their sound. You are faced with an overwhelming feeling of affection, a true warm glow.

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