Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Album Review: Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! by The Hippaes (by Emma Prew)

The Hippaes are a four-piece indie punk meets power pop band from the south of England – 3 parts Southsea, 1 part Falmouth. Consisting of Kelly Kemp (of Dear Everyone) and Roo Pescod (of Bangers) sharing vocal and guitar duties, with Ben Pescod on bass and Mark Denny on drums (both of Attack Vipers), The Hippaes are an experienced bunch in the DIY punk scene. It’s been a few years since the band’s first EP, I Just Want To Float In The Void, was released but now they’re back with their debut full-length. Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! is a fun title for an album but is the music any good?

Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! opens with a song titled Inspiration. This immediately feels like a breath of fresh air as Kelly’s smooth, clear vocals contrast wonderfully with some distorted guitars. The vocal delivery is loud and almost forceful, as Kelly sings about the connections between mental health and creativity. It’s all over in less than two minutes but is a great kick-start to the album. Next up is Set The Agenda. After only adding minor harmonies in the first song, here we experience the brilliant distinction between Roo and Kelly’s vocals properly for the first time – it’s definitely a key draw of the Hippaes sound. Roo’s gruffer tones take the lead with Kelly singing the same lines but more softly. Something about the line ‘We’re going to build a new kind of Vatican’ screams Bangers to me but as the song progresses it becomes its own brand of catchy, upbeat and feel-good.

The third song, You Lay Down, is much slower in pace than the previous two tracks. The layered guitar parts give the track an almost dream-like feel that washes over you as the song progresses. The overall melody is repetitive yet methodical. With an obviously darker tone than much of the rest of the album, Roo says that this song is about his friend Jasmine who died how he found himself feeling guilty about it. Following on from You Lay Down is another slower paced song, I Once Felt Alive. Unlike the previous track however, I Once Felt Alive feels more hopeful and, in a way, care-free. The soulful riffs help to give the song summery vibes which are very welcome given that this album is released in the summertime.

The Ghost opens up with a soft yet fuzzy riff that has you thinking that this might be a quiet song but then, as if a switch is flicked, the rest of the band comes in. Kelly’s sugary sweet vocals – ‘You are the monster, I am the ghost.’ – are set against a bass-heavy almost grungey backing which is another instance of the Hippaes’ contrasting sound working so well. It’s all very eerie but then this song is about a ghost (either literally or metaphorically, I’m not sure). Next up is the super upbeat and infectiously poppy You Let Me Be. The track is very fast paced, therefore it makes perfect sense that the short but sweet chorus comes in after just 20 seconds. You Let Me Be is quite simply about how you can just be yourself around certain special people – quite sweet really. With a nice balance between the two vocalists throughout the track’s duration this is a great introduction to The Hippaes, if you wanted to start with just one song. Plus, there’s a video to aid this.

The seventh song, I Was A Light, switches things up once again. Opening with the line ‘I was a light that was left on every night.’ the song has a stripped back sound with just softly strummed guitar melodies and Roo’s vocals – at least to begin with. It’s slow and full of emotion. Then, half way through, the full band come in and progress into a lengthy instrumental, almost experimental, interlude. Simply put, this song sounds huge by the end. Kicking off with a distinct bassline and steady drum beat – The Hippaes’ rhythm section shining – Space takes the album in yet another new direction. Roo sounds particularly bitter with his vocal delivery which is reflected in the melody. Space is little bit about getting older and less ‘hip’ and a little bit about drinking wine in space. It certainly feels spacey musically so that helps reinforce the second theory. 

The penultimate track, The Backseat, starts with a groovy walking bass line and a yell of ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’. This is a short, simple and highly repetitive song but it is only repetitive within itself as it manages to sound completely different to all the tracks that came before it. It might just be me but the vocals sound distant, almost like they are literally being sung from the backseat while you’re listening in the front – that’s just silly isn’t it?. With a big punk rock riff opening, Heartbeats And Sand aims to end Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! in style. This is a nostalgic tune reflecting on what you had when you were younger and how your opinions may have changed on such things now. The chorus is as catchy as it is impactful – ‘We’ve got heartbeats and sand, We’ve got a long long way to go, Don’t know anything, Don’t miss anything, Don’t know.’ It’s a longer track that builds and builds towards the end. In a way, the song feels more straightforward and accessible than some of the songs on this release but it also ensures that the album finishes with a bang.

There’s so much variety in Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! that I’d say there’s something here for everyone, particularly if you were already a fan of any of the members’ previous bands. Regardless, it’s certainly a lot of fun. The album is out now on Everything Sucks Records.

You can stream and download Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! on Bandcamp now.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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