It’s been a wild road for Coleman Hell. Two years after releasing his first EP, Vena, the dance popster has finally come out with his first full-length album. Containing his hit track “2 Heads” from 2015, as well as a few singles from earlier this year, Summerland is a mixed bag – it’s not as consistently catchy as last year’s Coleman Hell – EP, but it mostly succeeds in capturing the free-spirited electropop he’s known for.
The title track, “Summerland,” wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack of a spaghetti western. It’s a slow-burner that perfectly showcases his beautiful voice, and although the chorus gets slightly repetitive after a while, it’s haunting nonetheless. The first half of the album is definitely carried by his previously-released chart-toppers: “Devotion” and “Cold Feet” aren’t bad, but they’re nothing spectacular, while “Run Wild” seems more promising in a “Thunder Clatter” sort of way, but never really builds into anything more than filler.
Summerland definitely picks up with “Northern Soul,” however. The track provides a welcome return to the folk-tinged pop bangers we’ve come to expect from Hell, complete with hand-claps and twangy banjos. Later highlights include “Witching Hour” and “Possessed,” which make the album seem a bit more cohesive and mature in its sound. Summerland closes with the super low-key “Hidden Camera,” a track which doesn’t fit as well into the body of the album. Hell has proven he’s capable of crafting evocative, slower jams (just see “Move On” from last year’s EP), but “Hidden Camera” falls flat.
Don’t get me wrong – Summerland has a pretty effective vibe overall. Hell wrote the album during a cabin retreat to the town he was raised in, and the album does a great job of capturing the feeling of “great summers” that Coleman was going for. It’s not a weak album, but his previous releases and this summer’s great singles had me wishing for more. Hell’s currently touring in Canada, but be on the look-out for him to come to the States soon – and check out all of Summerland here.