by Karen Fisher
The Hippos bouncy ska-punk tunes are all flavorful and sweet, and as hard to resist as store-bought cookies. Yes, theyre formulaic (this tune sounds like the Bosstones, that tune like Oingo Boingo), but the traditional ska-song recipe doesnt lend itself to much experimentation, and what it may lack in originality is made up for with gobs of sincerity, energy and honest-to-boots enthusiasm.
Straight from beautiful downtown Burbank, the Hippos Ariel, Louis, Danny, James, Rich and Kyle combine a hearty horn section with punk-power guitar and drums, melodic harmonies and an analog keyboard to spice up the cool factor. Twelve original songs (plus a cover of the Bacharach-David/Naked Eyes classic, "Always Something There to Remind Me") mix these ingredients in different proportions each comes out crisp, crunchy and cooked to perfection.
The group was picked up by Interscope late last year and played the Warped tour this summer, so this well-produced second album is being released to a few predictable cries of "sellout" from its devoted fan base rude boys with 5-pound key chains and dreamy-eyed girls in plaid skirts who pronounce bassist James "a hottie."
In fact, its not too far a stretch to see the connection between the Hippos shtick and that of boy-wonder-groups like the Backstreet Boys: Gimmicky matching outfits; songs about sad, misunderstood boys who only want a girl thats true; hairdos and musical arrangements crafted with equal care but the Hippos do it all with a skank and a smirk.
Most of em arent pretty enough for Tiger Beat anyway.