The Hippaes are a bunch of fun, as the title of their first LP would suggest. I mean that many exclamation marks can only plenty of dancing, surely. But there is substance and solid-as-fuck songwriting to complement the toe-tapping. Hippaes are made up of some DIY punk stalwarts with Roo Pescod from Bangers, Kelly Kemp from Dear Everyone and No Comply and Ben Pescod from Attack Wipers. This feels like a proper band effort, and Roo and Kelly’s trading vocals work together a treat. Roo’s distinctive rasp fits perfectly alongside Kelly’s high-pitched, meandering vocals that are not dissimilar from Lande Hekt’s (aka Muncie Girls lead singer). While pretty into Bangers’ previous stuff, I am glad that this is not just Bangers mk. 2 (despite some of the album apparently being originally purposed for a Bangers EP). Hippaes are more mid-tempo, poppy and less shout-y than Bangers ever were. Following on from 2016’s EP ‘I Just Want to Float in the Void’, Hip! Hip!! Hippaes!!! fits into that whole ‘indie-pop-punk’ sound that bands like Martha, Doe or Muncie Girls have been so prolific with; melodic punk meets indie-rock and power-pop essentially. It’s all distorted guitars and grunginess alongside the catchiness and vocal melodies.

There is a definite ‘90s indie-rock inspiration on some of these tracks but without ever crossing that line into ‘retro’. “You Lay Down” has a Superchunk feel to it, with its wonderful vocal melodies and semi-noodle-y guitar leads, as well as also coming across like a weird cross between Fest-punk and The Eagles. Roo’s vocals, with Kelly’s back-ups, work well here as the song fades out. “Space” recalls the stop-start dynamics and grooves of Sugar or Pavement, albeit a more playful version of these that sings about drinking wine and not being mistaken for a prude. In terms of playfulness, “The Back Seat” comes in first with its super silly bass riff and lyrics about being useless in the backseat of a car (“in the backseat/keep your mouth shut”). I like to think that this is a response to the ultra-seriousness of “The Backseat” by The Gaslight Anthem. Highlights, though: well, in terms of trading vocals, “I Once Felt Alive” feels like the peak and ending the track with an “oh, oh, oh!” is a missed opportunity for an album closer; “The Ghost” gets those bittersweet hooks spot on amid the grunge-y, bass-heavy distortion; “Heartbeats and Sand” sounds like Muncie Girls or Doe at their best, with its power pop melodies and melancholic, reflective lyrics, “you have all the things I’d dreamed I’d have when I was young”; “Set The Agenda” is the most pop-punk track on the LP and I’m sure is one of those that was initially written for the Bangers EP.

The Hippaes is the sound of a band full of ideas, taking influences from the contemporary punk scene and the mid-‘90s indie rock scene but always having something new to add into the equation. This! Is!! Ace!!!

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