Indie Rock Meets Country in Hippo Campus’ ‘Wasteland’


“Wasteland” (Courtesy Grand Jury Music)

By Grier Abercrombie, Arts Writer


Hippo Campus returns to the music scene with the release of their latest EP, “Wasteland.” This release marks a shift in their overall musical message as the band allows themselves to be vulnerable with a set of songs detailing love, loss and perseverance through it all.


From “Moonshine” to “Kick in the Teeth,” each song on “Wasteland” makes use of lyrical imagery and rich storytelling to paint a picture in the listener’s mind. I think the beauty of this EP is found in the variety of stories and emotions that each track contributes. Hippo Campus makes use of vulnerable lyrics, a variety of instruments and a blending of genres to carve out a unique soundscape. 

This EP’s overarching style is reminiscent of classic country songs that aren’t afraid to be vulnerable as a shortcut to being understood, rather than hiding behind poetic lyrics with deeper meanings. “Kick in the Teeth” has the strongest country influence, with its twangy vocals lamenting a lover and reflecting on loss. I’m a personal fan of the slower pace of “Probably” and the use of piano to complement and echo the vocals. It contrasts the moods of the previous tracks on the EP, reinforcing Hippo Campus’ ability to escort their listeners through the emotions and experiences of life. This EP highlights that there is no love without grief; they exist in tandem.

Listeners looking for the kind of song to blast with the windows down will favor “Yippie Ki Yay” and “Honeysuckle.” They both feature a confident, driven sound. “Yippie Ki Yay” has powerful momentum that’s established in the first measure and lasts until the final second, with bursts of emotion complimented by a steady beat. “Honeysuckle” couples bright, unique vocals with lines like, “Knocking up the preacher’s daughter, same old (same old)” and “Nothing good is ever getting better for me,” demonstrating that Hippo Campus is capable of handling more difficult topics with grace.

As for “Moonshine,” Hippo Campus describes it in an Instagram post as a song that “ruminates on that special someone you’ll always feel young with.” It’s sweet and brings to mind a first love that’s remembered fondly. 

The Opposite of a Wasteland

While the title of the EP may suggest a landscape devoid of life, the contents themselves are anything but. Sure, the opening lines of “Yippie Ki Yay” may evoke images of a barren wasteland, but the EP’s musical and lyrical landscapes convey deep emotions with straightforward lyrics, placing it within the realm of country music. This EP is a wild exploration of love and loss and the emotions one experiences on the journey between the two.

The release of “Wasteland” has further cemented Hippo Campus as a band to keep on your radar as they continue to release more music. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next, and how they might blur the lines between genres.

If you want to experience Hippo Campus’ music live, be sure to check out Kilby Block Party, happening this summer May 12-14 in Salt Lake City. They’ll be performing, along with The Strokes, PavementYeah Yeah Yeahs and more!


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