On their sophomore album Bambi, St. Paul, Minnesota-bred band Hippo Campus offer up a self-reflective set of songs that drift into much darker terrain, but unfold with a frenetic yet fragile beauty that makes even the most painful moments feel glorious. Partly recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago, Bambi finds Hippo Campus working again with producer BJ Burton (Bon Iver, Low, Francis and the Lights), who handled production on their 2017 full-length debut Landmark. And in sculpting Bambi's distinctly inventive arrangements, Hippo Campus significantly expanded their use of drum machines and synths.
Throughout Bambi, Hippo Campus match their relentless self-examination with a joyfully adventurous sonic approach, ultimately transforming the emotional experience of the problems they're exploring. On "Anxious," urgent rhythms and untamed vocal delivery draw an unlikely power from raw vulnerability. Meanwhile, on the album's title track, Hippo Campus's otherworldly vocals, delicate guitar lines, and sweetly determined lyrics have a strangely uplifting effect. And on "Mistakes," the band's choir-like harmonies and ethereal tones make for a haunting contrast to their meditation on the idea of "wanting to be the best you can for the people you love, but feeling like you can't really carry that out," as Jake Luppen puts it.
5. Why Even Try
6. Think It Over