Campaign – Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! (EP)

Campaign - Beetlejuice! coverWhen I last reviewed Atlanta’s Campaign – all the way back in the heady days of last June, a time I’m sure we all remember fondly through the haze of distance and nostalgia – I noted that the five-piece were clearly intent on reliving the legacy of Gainesville heroes Hot Water Music and the other great bands that outfit inspired (of which there were many).

To be specific, I said:

The Hot Water Music comparison is probably one that’s been made in almost every review of this band but it’s perfectly apt. With It Likes to Party Campaign aren’t pushing this established sub-genre in any new directions but they’ve got their own identity and the EP’s title is spot-on. What you have here are five fast-paced, explosively dynamic punk rock anthems played with passion and panache.

I could almost copy-paste that summary into this review – without obviously quoting it, I mean – and it would apply equally well here. Fortunately for you I’m not that lazy, and plenty has changed since that EP. For example, Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! has four songs, not five, and its title isn’t as good.

It is, however, another freebie, carrying forward Campaign’s laudable DIY ethos – this is their third release and the third that’s been available since day one on Bandcamp. The songs are also a little more thematically linked, mostly via simple wordplay that acknowledges the nostalgia that often characterises the Hot Water Music style of melodic, emotional hardcore punk (melo-emo-hxc-punx if you will… yes, I am joking. Although it would also be fair to dub this Orgcore). Each title begins with the word “Old”, you see: respectively they’re named ‘Old Haunts’, ‘Old Thrills’, ‘Old Blues’ and ‘Old Mess’.

‘Haunts’ and ‘Mess’ strike me as the best tracks on offer here, perhaps because they allow a little more room for the guitars to roam off the beaten track and explore the constraints of the band’s form. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no wild experimentation on offer – I’m talking more about restrained, unshowy lead guitar, exploring different ends of the fretboard whilst the rhythm section keep the song driving forward like the juggernaught of hooks it is. ‘Old Haunts’, for example, opens with plenty of octave chords and a generally urgent, chuggy and gruffly-sung thrust, all underpinned by the expected catchy drums. There’s some simple lead about a minute in leading up to the middle eight and then again towards the end. It fits the song well and doesn’t distract, but it presents more simple hooks to tug at your eardrums and heartstrings.

‘Old Mess’, on the other hand, has a real spark to it. Its lyrics are deeply personal and are lent a sense of urgency by the relentless drums. Backing gang vocals are thrown in too – if you dig this style of music you’ll be a sucker for those, I’m sure – and the band’s twin guitars alternately match and pull away from one another, all whilst chasing down the core melodies of the song. It’s a solid demonstration that the band understand the magic that Hot Water Music so successfully bottled.

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