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Over the past five years or so, you'd do very well to find a genre that's been quite as de rigeur as synthpop; so ten-a-penny have bands of that ilk been, in fact, that it's very easy indeed to throw around accusations of artificiality. Put simply, plenty of bands have headed down that particular route for no other reason than that it's likely to get you noticed; like the Topshops and Urban Outfitters that those 'artists' so often soundtrack, there's usually little in the way of soul behind their output.

I've never been quite convinced that husband-and-wife pairing Summer Camp aren't part of that particular cabal, even if I thoroughly enjoyed their debut EP, Young, back in 2010. Perhaps it's because their first record proper, Welcome to Condale, was a blindingly garish affair, failing to build upon the washed-out subtlety of their early work and going for all-out, in-your-face, persistently-irritating pop instead. I mention that album, though, because it's relevant here, to some degree; there was a vague concept to it, and this release, a soundtrack to the Beyond Clueless documentary about teen movies, obviously follows a similar tack.

It's a real departure for the pair, too; the title track, in opening the album, lures you into a false sense of security, Elizabeth Sankey's bolshy vocal running across a backdrop of chirpy keyboards and hazy guitars. Thereafter, though, things enter 'soundtrack' territory in the real sense of the word; Sankey largely takes a backseat, with most of the vocals coming in the form of samples from the two hundred-plus feature films that the documentary concerns itself with.

The good news for fans of the band's early material is this; there's moments, quite incredibly, where Summer Camp sound quite threatening on this record, in much the same way that you always felt there was a little more than meets the eye to the likes of, say, the original recording of 'Ghost Train'. 'Weak Walls', for instance, with its cacophonous guitar and ominous, ICU beeping, sounds like it could have been plucked from the first 65daysofstatic album, whilst the taut, shimmering synths on 'Judgement' suggest real tension. 'Spring Fling', too, uses very eighties electronic sounds to generate unease, and the increasingly-intense two minutes of guitar that is 'Graduation' is a neat way to close proceedings; the less said about the faux-anthemic 'Learn to Love Yourself', though, the better.

The handful of traditional band tracks that make the cut are a mixed bag, meanwhile; 'Whatever' would be the standout, with irrepressibly groovy bass married to tropical, Chic-esque guitar, but it falls victim to a problem that crops up elsewhere; the vocal samples can be really, really intrusive. They seldom lend atmosphere, and a version that eschews them would be far more enjoyable on a stand-alone basis, away from the confines of the documentary.

On the whole, though, I was pleasantly surprised by Beyond Clueless; it's first of all proved Summer Camp's musical talent beyond doubt, by taking them in a direction so far removed from what they've been doing so far, and secondly lends them a little substance and credibility; it sets them apart from a lot of their fashionable synthpop contemporaries. Whether or not they'll bring some of what they learned from this into their next proper LP remains to be seen, but it's going to be interesting to watch it develop; if nothing else, I've remembered the raw potential the pair so clearly had when they first emerged.

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