Campfire OK’s debut is chamber pop done right

Camber pop can be a tricky genre to master. If you go all-in with elaborate instrumentation and production you could be viewed as excessive and get results that sound cluttered and unfocused. If you go the minimalist route you might be viewed as just another band of indie buskers trying to give off a false image of sophistication by including a glockenspiel on a few songs. Local chamber poppers Campfire OK don’t fall into either of those traps on their debut album Strange Like We Are.

The band blends banjo, piano, guitar, horn, drums and more to create an album filled with a wide variety of instrumentation, lush soundscapes and rewarding song structures. Opening track “We Lay in Caves” immediately grabs you with syncopated piano notes that sound like Radiohead scoring a film. Elsewhere on the album “Not Young Not Old” provides a bit of a punch, “Brass” is a beautiful, delicate ballad and “Mexico N-O” brings the record to a perfect close with a crescendo of drums, horns and guitar.

The album does flounder a bit by not offering much of a variety in its sound — having a piano-heavy backbone for most every song can get a bit repetitive — but to the band’s credit the chamber pop genre can be a bit limiting when it comes to trying to forge a unique identity. It’s clear Campfire OK has a lot to offer and it is going to fun watching this young band develop.

Campfire OK performs its CD release party at Columbia City Theatre Saturday, Feb. 5.

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