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Is Anybody Out There?
and can they explain how I missed this song?
Title: Beats Don’t Stop
Artist: The Hippos
Album: The Hippos
Sometimes an artist with a full catalog is reduced to a single release in the eyes of its individual listeners. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with album quality; I know that a lot of people love Domestica and Mama, I’m Swollen, and those albums are probably great, but I never really needed them in my life. As far as I’m concerned, the only album Cursive ever released was The Ugly Organ.1 You’ve got similar circumstances, I’m sure.
So when I tell you that the only Hippos record was Heads Are Gonna Roll, know that I never put time into Forget the World and that I didn’t even know that the band’s 2003 self-titled release existed until a few months ago. In fact, it’s possible that The Hippos, despite its eponymous title, is the most anonymous record of any within my musical sphere. Part of that is circumstantial: The album was released in 2003, after the band’s 2002 breakup, and consists of material that was being recorded as the band was dissolving.
But, again: For almost 20 years, I didn’t know that this album existed! I stumbled upon it while digging around on Spotify recently, which is acutely insane when considering that, in 2003, the year that The Hippos was released, I was deeply in love with Heads Are Gonna Roll and I had several friends that also actively loved The Hippos,2 including a few who even worshipped the ignored-by-me Forget the World. And yet I have never heard anyone speak about The Hippos, ever. That’s not an exaggeration. If you were to text me about it right now, it would be the first discussion of the album I’ve ever had. I’m not sure that anyone I know is even aware that it exists. This is madness.
Of course, while Heads Are Gonna Roll is a functionally perfect summer album, completely without flaw,3 The Hippos is just … fine. It’s an album by a band, you know? Take it or leave it. And since no one else on earth has ever discussed this 20-year-old album before,4 let me step into that void: Among some adequate synth-rock, there is one moment worth celebrating on The Hippos. “Beats Don’t Stop” is an absolute jam. The melody, the harmony, the looping programming—it’s all fantastic. Honestly, “Beats Don’t Stop” could take a cue from its name and play on a loop for an extended period and I’d be just fine with it.
It remains absolutely mystifying that it took me so long to hear this song for the first time, but now that I know it—and know how great it is—it’s completely predictable how much I’ll listen to it: Lots.
I give “Beats Don’t Stop” five out of five stars.
And maybe “Big Bang” was a reunion single or something? I don’t know, this isn’t a perfect working model.
I’m not sure if my friend Mark is reading this or not—if so: Hi, Mark!—but he and I shared an optometrist growing up, Dr. Kirk, who looked exactly like Kyle Briggs, erstwhile drummer of The Hippos and the guy with the beard and glasses on the far left of the Heads Are Gonna Roll album cover. I always liked to imagine that Dr. Kirk actually was Kyle Briggs, leading a straight-laced optometrist’s life by day, and a probably-still-pretty-straight-laced ska drummer’s life by night. Honestly, I’m not entirely convinced that this wasn’t reality. Have you ever seen Dr. Kirk and Kyle Briggs in the same room? I didn’t think so.