They’re coming home. They’re coming home. They’re coming. Summer Camp are coming home. This, here tonight, is a homecoming show. Which is a not inappropriate word for Summer Camp, given their frequent nods towards transatlantic culture. For us, it’s just a word signifying a return to the town from which we originated. For Americans, it’s the basis of an entire civilization.
So Summer Camp are back on capital soil, second album in the bag and – after tonight – UK tour done. The first thing you notice is that as a band they seem to have swelled. Ok, the second thing you notice, once you’ve clocked the fact they’ve adopted ice-cream vendor chic as their preferred wardrobe this time around.
They sound fuller and more rounded. It’s still lo-fi, but it’s a bit less ramshackle than previous incarnations – something that is entirely in keeping with the new self-titled album. But what they’ve maintained is their sheer, unflappable, unbreakable, undeniable, likeability. Behind the scenes they could quite easily be sacrificing animals or cold-calling the elderly with terrible pension draining deals on home energy, but once they step out on stage, the desire to clutch these songs close to your bosom, run up to your room, slam the door and dance with eyes screwed up tight is hard to deny.
Fresh sparkles with effervescent energy. Crazy has a coy sense of playfulness and Night Drive is as good an advert for the vocal harmonic benefits of marriage as you’re likely to hear. If you’re looking for a further demonstration of the increased confidence they have, they way they throw in Hallway, a new track from their soundtrack to new teen movie dissecting documentary Beyond Clueless (and really, could you imagine any other band being better suited to performing that function than Summer Camp?), without breaking stride is pretty indicative.
They (Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley) do look like they’re having fun, and, as is so often the case with acts who project that sort of impression with a modicum of believability, it is reciprocated by the audience. They save the two best songs for close to the end. Better Off Without You is still great, a marvellous, deliciously bitter “I never loved you and I’m keeping the dog” kiss-off, while most recent single Two Chords is a glittering treat. Deceptively propulsive, sprinkled with delicate synths and with Sankey’s swooning plea “to let me be perfect” draped across the top, it’s all really quite poignant.