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Posted on May 22nd, 2015 (10:00 am) by Michael Negron

The word “cinematic” is tossed around a lot when describing different forms of media. If an artist has a particular flair and a dollop of glamour, you’re likely to see someone out there lift the term to describe the ineffable, yet immediate, style that evokes the visage of Hollywood. Indie pop marital duo, Summer Camp saves us the work of all that and spells it out all too clearly; having already whet their appetite with “Beyond Clueless,” Summer Camp recently released their own cinematic vision with the campy, horror-film homage that is the titular music video to their latest album, Bad Love. However, there’s a twist; the bad guys are…themselves! Perhaps unintentionally, the video for "Bad Love" exemplifies the best and worst parts of the album, wrapped up in a fitting mix of video and audio.

As you might already be able to tell, the album has a bit of a confusing premise. Camp (in both senses) and pretension don’t mix well, and unfortunately the album is mired in both. For every catchy hook the album throws at you – and there are a great deal of them – there’s an equally painful lyric. The album kicks off to that same, familiar track, but sans the visual medium you might not immediately notice the misshapen theme at play. As the tracks blend into each other, they start to literally blend into each other. It’s a tactic a lot of bands employ, and again, at this point, it’s not overtly pandering; quite the opposite, some of the best production on the album occurs in these moments. That flair of the band is here in full force, practically screaming, “we’re saying something important!” but in a way that’s suave and cool.

Then you reach “Beautiful,” and things start to make sense. Amping the groove up to 11, throwing out all the production techniques they have at once, and building an absolutely compelling iteration of their “slasher” theme, if “Bad Love” is the best representation of the album at par, “Beautiful” is the album pushed to its extremes. Weary chants of “you’re beautiful” repeating over increasingly distanced panning in the bridge encapsulate everything the album hopes to be, and in this instance, it works perfectly. Yet, the verses preceding offer some of the worst and most cliché lyrics on the record, lazily reciting lines like “All I want is to be close to you / there’s nothing I can do” (The Police, anyone?). This wouldn’t be such a problem were the album not so vocal-centric and thematically dependent; the vocals are often pushed up so far it not only puts a spotlight on the lyrical content, but also makes it awkward to transition from an instrumental passage (see: “You’re Gone”).

If the album had just a few bad lyrics or a few poor production choices, it would be more than forgivable. Ultimately, Bad Love is a catchy and occasionally inventive take on a time-honored cinematic tradition, but it contains more than a few unrelated mishaps. Bad Love takes a daring attempt at a difficult concept and ultimately fails, because it doesn’t ground itself. For all the flair in production and conceit, the careful consideration that goes into creating the album’s big moments is all but forgotten in the framework that would otherwise allow it to work. It’s still worthwhile for those larger moments, but there’s little reason to stick around for the rest.

Track List:

  1. Bad Love
  2. You’re Gone
  3. Sleepwalking
  4. Beautiful
  5. Horizon
  6. Run Away
  7. Angela
  8. Drive Past My House
  9. If You Hate Me
  10. Everlasting
  11. Keep Up
Summer Camp - Bad Love Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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