In the years between 2018's BAMBI and LP3, Minneapolis' Hippo Campus -- made up of vocalist/guitarists Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, bassist Zach Sutton, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson -- has grown up and into itself. Although the five-piece has been friends since middle school and put out a number of studio releases since its inception, it's the new record, LP3, that's the most honest portrait of who Hippo Campus is. It's also a study in the nuances of growing up -- coming to terms with mortality, the confusing journey of sexuality, bottoming out, seeing decisions from the night before in the harsh morning light; finding your identity as a person and as an artist -- how that can be a collision of elation and shame, painful and joyful all at once.
Over the last few years, the Hippo universe has expanded outward. Luppen and Stocker both put out solo records as Lupin and Brotherkenzie respectively, and the two also teamed up with Caleb Hinz to put out the debut Baby Boys record while DeCarlo Jackson founded, and collaborated with multiple bands around the Twin Cities, including DNM, Arlo, and FPA. Navigating solo projects and new dynamics and the spotlight alone is humbling, bringing up new insecurities and defense mechanisms. It was challenging in its own way to branch outside of Hippo -- and it made the eventual return to the project feel like coming home.
LP3 is, then, their strongest and most complete work yet -- a freshly-inked portrait excavating young adulthood and identity and, more importantly, how that personal identity fits into a larger camaraderie. It looks at how growing up can just feel like something that's always moving past you when you're trying to grab a hold of it; it's a push-and-pull of letting go or holding tighter -- and figuring out what matters the most. Through cinematic, sonic clarity, LP3 is a sweeping account of courage and tenacity; tender-hearted stumbling that leads you on the right path after all.