Reviewed by Jake Cox
Camp Cope haven’t been quiet in the space between releasing their self-titled debut record and their sophomore album, with frontwoman Georgia Maq’s multiple rebukes of Falls Festival for only booking nine female acts, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich’s essay about inequalities in the music industry, and their split EP with their Philadelphian counterparts Cayetana – which spawned hits Footscray Station & Keep Growing.
Proving that they are more than worthy of the critical acclaim and platform they built for themselves, Camp Cope have avoided the sophomore slump on this record from Run For Cover records.
Amidst anecdotal reflections of growing up & finding your identity (The Omen, Sagan-Indiana, How To Socialise & Make Friends, UFO Lighter), this album takes aim at a census of inequalities – being a woman in the music industry (The Opener), victim blaming in the face of sexual assault (The Face of God), and loss of romantic, plutonic, and familiar loves (Animal & Real, Anna, I’ve Got You).
Though the history of Camp Cope is based on together to add body and beat to Georgia Maq’s solo songs. But this time around, Camp Cope have established their sound and style – no matter how much you strip back How to Socialise and Make Friends as an album, the influences of Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (bass) & Sarah Thompson (drums) are still plastered all over it.
The first single released in November 2017, The Opener is a blatant eye-roll at the condescending notions of the male-dominated industry (“If I was hungry, then you were starving / Now tell the dead man you’re the one dying.”).
Calling out Falls Festival mid-set earlier this year, frontwoman Georgia Maq sang “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up a tent / It’s another fucking festival booking only nine women” in place of “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up a room / It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue”.
As an album opener itself, The Opener positions the canvas for Camp Cope to paint their album with and shows that their art won’t change or go away anytime soon – “It’s another man telling us we’re missing a frequency / Yeah, show ‘em Kelly!”, “Well, see how far we’ve come not listening to you”.
The title track immediately fulfils that promise, with Kelly again providing that signature Camp Cope high-frequency bass-riff from the first beat, and Georgia detailing a story of growing up, learning that it’ll be okay on the other side of a break-up, and finding her own identity outside of a relationship – “I can see myself living without you / and being fine / for the rest of my life”.
Camp Cope revisits these themes of self-discovery, growth, and finding the ability to be comfortable alone at multiple points on this record – “Back to me / Back to me / Back to me” (Sagan-Indiana), “Now as long as I close my eyes, I’m by myself / And I’d rather be alone with you than anybody else” (The Omen), “And he expected that I was gonna fail and run back / Well fuck that” (UFO Lighter).
The album’s third track The Face of God is an open letter about attempted sexual coercion, victim-blaming, and apathetic excuses made for perpetrators – “You just kept trying to change my mind / And said I did something wrong / That somehow what happened to me was my fault / You couldn’t do that to someone / Not you, nah your music is too good”
Anna explores the loss of a platonic love and the hurt that accompanies it, as painful romantic losses – “You are the other half / The missing parts / The sleepless muse”. Backed by a smooth mixture of Kelly’s melodious high-frequency basslines, and Sarah’s full and cymbal-heavy drumming, Georgia’s longing for Anna is tangible through her soaring vocals. The chorus is a self-instructional guide for coping with loss – “Get it all out / Put it in a song”.
Later, exploring the loss of romantic loves, Georgia Maq paints her romantic subjects not as the arsehole ‘fuckboys’ of yesteryear, but instead today’s new male antagonists – ‘the softboy’ who acknowledges the existence of his own feelings, uses them to get laid, then to justify carelessness, before ultimately fading away – “Let’s talk about saving face / Let’s talk about putting me in my place / Come out and then walk away / As long as you came.” (Animal and Real), “I know one [problem] of mine is to go a night without sympathising with you” (How to Socialise and Make Friends).
Finishing out the album is acoustic track I’ve Got You, in parallel to the closing acoustic track Song for Charlie from Camp Cope’s self-titled album. While singing about her mother’s late partner’s battle against depression on Song for Charlie, Georgia Maq sings about her late father, Australian musician Hugh McDonald (Redgum), and his battle against cancer on I’ve Got You.
After recounting childhood experiences with her father (including an infantile accident which ended with her body full of broken glass – a photo of which was used as the cover art for Camp Cope’s self titled album), she sings a poignant acknowledgement of her father’s influences and his lingering presence in her life – “A defender of freedom / An advocate for truth / I’m so proud that half of me grew from you / I will always hear your voice when I speak / I will always see your face in me”.
Ending I’ve Got You with Georgia Maq saying in the studio “okay, I’m done”, highlights the fact that this album was recorded in merely 2 days – a testament to their individual and collective skill, producing a record this good.
Camp Cope have once again proved their unwavering ability to deliver emotionally gripping and provoking songs, while maintaining a comfortable and palatable sound underneath topics that are often hard to swallow.
Taking How to Socialise and Make Friends on tour across Australia with special guests Chastity Belt (USA), Camp Cope have sold out every show (except for Hobart’s Republic Bar on Wednesday March 14th), and will tour through Canada and the USA from late March through April.
How to Socialise and Make Friends is available Friday March 2nd through Poison City Records.
CAMP COPE album tour with special guests Chastity Belt (USA)
Wednesday 14 March – Republic Bar, Hobart
Thursday 15 March – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne (Sold Out)
Friday 16 March – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne (Sold Out)
Saturday 17 March – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane (Sold Out)
Tuesday 20 March – Jive, Adelaide (Sold Out)
Wednesday 21 March – Basement, Canberra (Sold Out)
Thursday 22 March – Heritage Hotel, Bulli (Sold Out)
Friday 23 March – The Metro, Sydney (Sold Out)