All the elements are here to give Hippo Campus a chance at legit pop stardom. They’ve got a winning combination of cheekbones, buttery voices and sentimental lyrics, which, judging by the comments on their new video, have them primed to plaster a lot of middle school notebooks. Their output has been heavy on summer-ready choruses and youthful energy, with production and guitar parts catchy enough to grab older ears. “Bambi” refines the more sensitive side to this sound. To people outside their fan base, it falls just on the right side of interesting.
Singer Jake Luppen puts his pop-star level chops to use, with some of the bands most mature lyrics to date. As the band explained at the song’s release, it’s about balancing relationships with your own mental health: “I haven’t been much my self – and I feel like my friends are being put through this hell I’m feeling”. The frustration and pressure of being a young adult, and the joy and support of friendship, is always worth touching on. It’s a shame it’s told through such a sterile, forgettable melody.
The band explores new sounds with drum machines, keys and a heavily effected vocal sample, which winds in and out of the verses, and their well-utilised trumpet player adds thick brass layers towards the end of the track. There’s an obvious attention to detail, and these tricks are enough to give a lot of hope. Hippo Campus have all the potential to really move the needle, but new listeners might be left wanting something more from this one.