Moshi Moshi presents the long-awaited fifth studio album from indie-popsters Summer Camp. With multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Warmsley returning from his solo projects last year, Romantic Comedy is designed as a soundtrack to a film of the same name by his bandmate Elizabeth Sankey, and comes out on Valentine’s Day.
Vinyl LP £17.99 MOSHILP99
White vinyl LP on Apricot Recordings.
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Summer Camp, the duo of Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley, have always approached their craft in a very knowing way. Warmsley’s tones and Sankey’s swooning vocals are artfully calibrated, conjuring up semi-imagined nostalgia for lost eras, epochs and youth with vivid intensity. Throw in a penchant for teen-movie storytelling and you’ve got yourself music that is, in its own way, rather calculated. But here’s the thing - in their calculation they often push through to something extremely evocative, their careful constructions rich with a longing that gives tension to the poised instrumentals.
Perhaps appropriately for a soundtrack to a documentary about rom-coms (directed by none other than Sankey herself), ‘Romantic Comedy’ zooms out from the synth-pop style that has characterized much of Summer Camp’s other work. The album reaches back to the 60s more than many other Summer Camp LPs - ‘Love Of My Life’ has a great Motown stomp to it, for instance. Some of the tracks here are ornate and gilded in the Wainwright family mode, while others repurpose chansons, girl-groups and ye-ye - all of which, of course, are sonic archetypes of the rom-com universe. Knowing how much consideration Summer Camp put into their work, I’d expect that these new soundworlds have not been stumbled upon by accident - there might be something in the ‘Romantic Comedy’ thesis about the 60s as the golden-age of love, the time in which pop music crystallised the sound of falling.
As well as overflowing with melody and harmony, ‘Romantic Comedy’ also contains some of Summer camp’s most ambitious work yet - ‘The Ugly Truth’ swings through sections with the compositional panache of something from ‘The White Album’. A smattering of gorgeous vignettes give the album breathing space, with nuggets like ‘Impossible Perfection’ performing a similar function to incidental music in a film (as they may well do in the documentary ‘Romantic Comedy’ - I’ve not seen it yet).
It is very difficult to make music that is concertedly retro and still imbue it with character and grace. Summer Camp have always done that better than most, but on ‘Romantic Comedy’ they do it better than ever.
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