Summer Camp - Welcome to Condale

by Miz DeShannon Rating:9 Release Date:2011-10-31

Never has an album been made which brings to life memories of lost youth, disco dancing, bad fashion, holiday romance and a whole universe of teenage dreams quite like Welcome to Condale does. Taking its cues from all your favourite b-rate teen films of the 80s, with smidgeons of loved-up rock 'n' roll guitar and sweetheart harmonies Tiffany would be jealous of, this album catalogues a cast of misfits and prom queens, loners and lovers.

Following on from last year's taster, the Young EP, Jeremy Walmsley and Elizabeth Sankey have truly hit the nail on the revival head, with a 12-track album of guilty pleasure songs, full of heavy synths, layered Human League-esque vocals, disco basslines and popping Dead or Alive drum machines. With sprinklings of 60s girl groups and a few other things, it is very much nostalgic 80s pop yet strangely new-sounding at the same time.

Opener 'Better Off Without You' is a fabulous start - super synthy wonderousness, soaring Altered Images vocals and surf-inspired beats, then with hardly a breath it's straight into the rock-clap-fest and heavier sounds of 'Brian Krakow', Walmersley taking the lead as Phil Oakey. The whole album is the perfect lo-fi soundtrack for a movie in your head made up of all your favourite 80s stars, full of crackly intimacy and jilted love, played out in tracks like 'I Want You' and 'Losing My Mind' with sublime vocal chemistry between the two, their sporadic desperation evoked with dark sounds gathered from the likes of Ultravox rather than Taylor Dayne.

You can practically imagine them strutting around the stage with bouffant hairdos, dark pink cheek-bone blush, shoulder pads and key-tars in songs like 'Down', full of surfy guitar riffs. Again, it's the kind of song that makes you want to dance like Nina in the '99 Red Balloons' video. From twee title track 'Welcome to Condale' with its twinkly background sounds, to the distorted and layered vocals juxtaposed against goth chords and pounding beats in 'Nobody Knows You', this album would be lost without synths and drum machines. Totally, and utterly, 80s pop.

Slowing to 'Done Forever', here come the heartbreak pieces in the story of summertime love, and with a more Psychedelic Furs intensity, 'Last American Virgin' continues themes of rejection and unwanted attention. There's drama and indecision in Summer Camp's lyrics, some songs showing naivity and misguided trust, some being outright sexual. Closing on the appropriately named '1988', another boy-meets-girl-style anthem, everything has been resolved for the closing scenes.

The album has so many of these anthems, typified in songs like 'Ghost Train' and 'Down', swooshing popping synth sounds making beautifully polished, preppy mono-fetish sing-alongs - a wonderful development of their writing and performing abilities after the delicate dreaminess of Young. Playing out like the best end-of-the-movie soundtrack Molly Ringwald could have ever asked for, pass the hairspray and a traffic light lolly, let's head off to the disco.

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