Review Summary: The endless record spinning inside my head.
Once in a blue moon, when the stars align and Lady Luck is smiling upon you, this one song or band comes around. And it changes everything. It sucks you in and chews you up whilst you more than willingly crawl deeper into the black hole. For me, it was Camp Cope who were going to become part of my daily life.
I admit I discovered the band way too late. Frontwoman Georgia Maq has been an established part of Melbourne's music scene for several years now. Playing solo shows with just her and her acoustic guitar, as well as putting videos of her playing online, she quickly gathered a dedicated audience. Her song writing is outstanding: It's heartfelt, honest, political yet personal. It feels much like sharing an intimate moment reading her diary when she manages to turn her High School experience or long-distance relationship into art. My favourite line must be from Footscray Station, a song expressing her love towards the area she lives in: “Don't bother stealing my wallet because I'm still earning minimum wage”.
It wasn't until their sophomore record How To Socialise & Make Friends popped up on one of my favourite band's playlists that I heard of Camp Cope. The project brought Maq together with bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson to allow more complexity flow into her music, staying true to the punk-tinted indie sound. I chuckled at the title and, hoping to learn how to finally build up a social life, I clicked play on the first song.
The Opener is a powerful track seemingly dealing with a past love throughout its first half. It turns out to be way more than that: Being an all-female band, Camp Cope are laying down their experiences with sexism in the music industry. It's the women*'s turn to fiercely fight back now. In times of oppression, we need friends supporting and believing in each other more than ever. The line Show 'Em, Kelly – meanwhile having founds its way onto the band's merchandising by popular demand – is a shoutout to the band's bassist whose been told time and time again she's playing her instrument incorrectly. Personally, I find the bass lines on the songs to be marvellous. They're a leading, thriving force, pushing the music forward and making it so much more memorable. If you've ever found yourself singing along to a guitar solo be prepared to be practising your flawless bass line imitation soon.
The Face of God is another piece of tight songwriting about sexual violence and rape survivors. Too often are the victims blamed, saying “they've had it coming”, they wore clothes too revealing or behaved in a way too attractive. It gets worse when a famous musician is the perpetrator: “You don't seem like that kind of guy/ You've got that one song that I like”. Camp Cope are not having it. They're here to listen to the voices that too often go unnoticed.
But don't think How To Socialise & Make Friends is limited to one topic. Anna or Sagan-Indiana deal with Maq's interpersonal relations, of having loved ones move away, of being stuck in the past or too obsessed with what could happen in the future. UFO Lighter, a jab at the song Stove Lighter off their debut, discusses relationships in all its wondrous forms. Motherly figures, romantic relationships, dear friends – they're all part of the package that sometimes is overlooked in the favour of writing about a crush. And sometimes those relationships don't work out, resulting in drifting into self-destructive behaviour.
The record closes with the heartfelt I've Got You, a stripped down tribute to Maq's late father, musician Hugh McDonald. His struggle with cancer is juxtaposed with a gruesome injury his daughter suffered as a young child, when she cut herself on a giant bottle of glass and had to be rushed to the hospital on a fisherman's boat. Her face after the accident beams at us from the cover of their self-titled album. Maq is also referencing her earlier work during the song's outro, the lines “We never found the Subway” having been used in another song dedicated to her father featured on her first solo EP.
Each of the nine tracks on the album emits its own powerful glow, the stream-of-consciousness-like lyrics dealing with many facets of life. There's something for everyone to identify with and relate to. I'm anxious to see where the band is heading next, I can't wait to have Georgia's charming accent haunt me again.