Growing Pains: A Year of “landmark”

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February 24, 2018 marks the one year anniversary of Hippo Campus’s landmark, the debut album from Minnesota’s finest indie band.  Since then, they’ve gone on three full tours, released the warm glow EP, put out two new music videos, and played iconic festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.  This was all over the course of a year, although it could easily feel as if it was all much more or all much less.  

Time, and the ultimately strange nature of it, is a major theme on landmark.  One of the first lines we hear is “I saw you there, and I swear you haven’t changed” in “Sun Veins.” In Vines, they see both futures and ghosts. “Simple Season” recalls summers past. “Epitaph” references January, “Monsoon” references June.  “Boyish” is the reflection of an anxious childhood, while “Vacation” is the reflection of an anxious young adulthood.  

Hippo Campus began writing songs the summer after graduating high school, a period when everything is static and time feels tangible.  It’s a feeling that’s always carried on in their songwriting, the ability to freeze a moment and make it feel like forever- or do the same in reverse  They didn’t release a full album until four years out of high school, which in it of itself is a landmark – to be as far removed from something as the amount of time you spent in it.  I was a senior in high school when the album was released, and while everything felt like it was ending, landmark felt like a beginning.  On the album’s anniversary I stumbled across this quote from Lady Bird writer/director Greta Gerwig, who says, “Senior year burns brightly and is also disappearing as quickly as it emerges… there is a certain vividness in worlds that are coming to an end.”  landmark is that vividness.  It’s the “waves of pastel orange and yellow” from “Vines,” and the “warm glow” that we’d come to know soon after.  Almost every song on landmark feels nostalgic, but in a way that paints everything gold without covering it entirely.  It’s so fitting, then, that an album soaked in the past should end with a song that looks fearlessly toward the future.  “Buttercup” begins, “I’ll be fine on my own, she said” and mixes what has happened and what’s to come throughout.  The feeling of trying to hold on (“growing pains splaying rain on the high sea / scale a tree, snap a branch so you can’t leave.”) while ultimately knowing it’s best to let go (“I’ll be fine, I’m alright, it’s my body”) is the heart and soul of not only the song, but the album.  It’s themes like these that makes landmark feel so deeply personal in a way that insures it will stick with you for many more years to come.        

By: Hannah Zwick

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