Ninety nine red balloons burst in the air. Polaroids are taken, curfews rejected and the Veronicas have taken over the prom, armed with little more than Harmony hairspray and sarcasm .
If you recognise these references, chances are you’re in your forties and fifties. Married pop duo Summer Camp and their 2011 album Welcome to Condale took as it’s template retro influences like The B52s, early Bangles, mid-period Talking Heads, and The Go Gos. And it predated bands like Haim and Self Esteem, who mine similar post-punk and new wave music.
The music press were less impressed- Pitchfork were pretty sniffy, and even 6Music only played Ghost Train, which enjoyed only a brief stint on the playlist, turning instead to spikier artists like Metronomy, whose music world was arguably more ambitious and British sounding.
Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley nonetheless created pop with an arched eyebrow – surely it’s no coincidence that Pulp’s Steve Mackey produced it- which had both the bittersweet tang of nostalgia and the knowing nod towards what Douglas Coupland had predicted in Generation X- the piecing together of different eras to create a cohesive whole, both in terms of style and taste.
The aching call and response of Last American Virgin and soulful Losing My Mind invokes the same poignancy as Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation and Virgin Suicides, and yet it never feels thrift store threadbare: there’s a real love for the 70s and 80s that doesn’t seem parodic. It stands alongside M83’s glorious Kim and Jessie – pop that hurts, as it’s like a testimonial to perfect youth,frozen in time, while we, the listeners, all age and die.
Their pop culture exploratory films and
zines are worth dipping into as well – everything they create has a perfect attention to detail.