On September 28th, Hippo Campus came out with their second studio album, “Bambi.” The young band made a name for themselves with their debut album, “Landmark,” in early 2017, but they greatly step away from their traditional style on the new release. “Landmark” was an album wise beyond its years (the band was in their early 20s at the time), yet they have somehow matured even more over the course of the past year and a half. “Bambi” is a complete change of pace from all of Hippo Campus’ previous releases, focusing heavily on mental health and the uncertainties of adult relationships while achieving a more serious musical style. “Bambi” is beautiful, true, and reflective of the human experience.
The band released a statement with the release of “Bambi” stating that this album is an experiment for the band. In this release, they embraced the present. They tried to capture whatever they were thinking or feeling in the moment and translated that into a song. You can definitely hear these feelings manifest into music—the songs on “Bambi” are much more personal than their previous releases and the music captures entire moods, whether it is anxiety, doubt, or hopelessness. This is not to discredit the music before “Bambi”—it is just to say that this is something different, something that cannot be replicated by another band. Before, Hippo Campus was making a name for themselves. Now that they are established in the world of alternative music, they are ready to take a chance, and it pays off. It’s incredible to see a band experiment with their sound in a way that works—so often artists lose their essence as they transition into something different. On the contrary, Hippo Campus becomes more themselves on “Bambi.”
Songs like “Anxious” and “Bambi” cover mental health issues both lyrically and instrumentally. “Anxious” is representative of the feeling of nervousness that often comes with social interactions, and as it builds up in the middle of the song you can sense this desperation through layered vocals and strong instrumentation. “Bambi” is the most popular single off the album. Lead singer Jake Luppen sings about struggles with mental health, which is coupled with a chilled-out melody. Part of the beauty of the “Bambi” album is the pure transparency that the band shows in the lyrical content. There is no sugarcoating it—a lot of the time they feel anxiety or sadness or doubt or hopelessness and that is okay; that fuels their art. Rather than being ashamed of the things they are feeling, they embrace them. Their album focuses around them. They turn those feelings into something incredible—something that we can all appreciate and relate to on some level.
This brings me to my favorite song on “Bambi”: a song called “Honestly.” The song itself is the most upbeat on the album, and sounds the closest to their previous releases. The instrumental section of the intro shares stylistic similarities with Remo Drive, another rock band from Minnesota that Hippo Campus toured with last fall. The short track starts off with lead singer Jake Luppen messing up the intro and repeatedly mumbling “I’m sorry, I suck” in a joking tone. The band says that they kept this mess-up in the final track because of the humanizing nature of the mistake. This is why Hippo Campus is a true representation of a band that has become a group of artists. They are simply unafraid. They have no fear to change their style and to give us an unfiltered account of what it it to be human, which is exactly what they do on “Bambi.”