Camp Trash’s debut EP, released last January, longed for drives to the beach and the sweltering summer heat. Downtiming was a succinct, energetic burst of power pop with hooks aplenty, but its closing track, “Weird Carolina,” hinted at grander ambitions. Leaning more toward structureless, Built to Spill-style indie rock than the summery pop rock of the other songs on Downtiming—but featuring as memorable a chorus as any other—it showed that Camp Trash can do more than write just a pop hook. With the release of The Long Way, the Slow Way, the Florida four-piece has delivered on both those promises.
The Long Way, the Slow Way is a record best understood in pieces. Its two six-song halves are structured fairly similarly; the first three songs are the bangers, the anthems, the rippers, and the last three showcase more depth and experimentality. To Camp Trash’s credit, they excel in both realms. On the record’s side A, the three-song string of opener “Mind Yr Own,” “Pursuit,” and explosive leadoff single “Weird Florida” represent the melodic, hook-heavy side, each song tighter, catchier, and more fun than the one before. But after “Weird Florida” comes the fuzzy, sludgy “Another Harsh Toyotathon,” a song more closely indebted to Jesu than to Third Eye Blind. It’s slow and it’s bleak, with a nearly whispered chorus almost drowned out by feedback. Then, miraculously, with 30 seconds left on the clock, a bright riff cuts through the clouds and the song is rebuilt for a sunny and catchy pop rock coda.
The two songs that follow, “Enough Explaining” and “Poured Out,” unfold differently than “Toyotathon,” trading out the thick, buzzing riffs that open that track for sparse and slow strummed guitar. It’s in this pair that the band’s more expansive side comes to the fore; the songs build and build, layering tremolos and galloping percussion and gang vocals into the stew. They exist in the same realm as the opening trio, but they’re beefier, spacier, and more patient.
“Lake Erie Boys” is a soft reset to open side B, and the band starts it all over from there. The closing pair of “Riley” and “Feel Something,” especially, feel like a statement. “Riley” builds and builds for its three minutes, each new act lending the song a new sense of gravity—it feels both like a finale in itself and a prelude to the five-and-a-half minute “Feel Something,” a pop-punk take on ‘80s Springsteenian grandeur. Like the run of “Toyotathon,” “Enough Explaining,” and “Poured Out,” they feel rooted in—or at least related to—the power pop of the band’s most accessible songs filtered through more ambitious structures and textures. This is what makes The Long Way, the Slow Way such a powerful debut LP; the band can write catchy, soaring pop hooks, and the band can write contemplative slow burners, but more impressively, they can do both at once and deliver them with the confidence of scene veterans.
Label: Count Your Lucky Stars