Album Review: Camp Cope - How to Socialise & Make Friends
Camp Cope were recording their first album within a year of forming, and a little over a year after its release they were recording their second, How To Socialise & Make Friends. This rapidity of recording speaks to the chemistry within the trio, who are a veritable tripod of great strength, each relying on each other musically, emotionally and with their ambitions. While Camp Cope was all written by Georgia Maq before the band formed, this second album pulls from experiences that have befallen the band members in the time since, and considering some of the dark and uncomfortable places they go on How To Socialise & Make Friends, it’s probably a fair assumption to say that they wouldn’t have made an album this brave and personal if they didn’t have each other.
The love and power that the three women take from each other is clear in any interviews you read or watch with them. They’ve caused a storm in their local Melbourne scene with their outspoken feminist views, and they are unafraid to admit (with justified pride) that they’re “bitches” – but they’ve had to be that way to get to where they are now. This is largely encapsulated in How To Socialise’s clarion call first track ‘The Opener’, where they detail the comments they’ve received from the male figures in the industry as they’ve risen (“it’s another man telling us we can’t fill the room/ it’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue”). The fierceness of calling out this inherent misogyny is clear just from reading the words, but in Georgia’s piercing voice it veritably grows claws and fury, making ‘The Opener’ one hell of a statement from the band. Her outspoken and unkempt voice is likely to put some people off from their very first listen – but you get the feeling Camp Cope wouldn’t want those people as fans anyway.
As How To Socialise unfolds, Georgia’s vocals never lose their commitment or gilt-edge, but applied to different stories and circumstances it leaves a different – but no less impactful – impression. The other song that will stick out for its deeply personal and political lyrics is ‘The Face Of God’, in which Georgia details sexual abuse that she’s suffered from someone in the music scene, who “[doesn’t] seem like that kind of guy” and whose “music is too good” for people to take appropriate action. It’s a bold and beautifully bruised song, with Camp Cope whipping up a storm in their featherweight indie rock style to carry the barbed message deeply into the flesh of anyone listening.
However, beyond those two songs, How To Socialise & Make Friends is largely an album filled with love and devotion to friends, family and music. Georgia’s earth quaking vocals are just as powerful when applied to these topics. ‘Anna’ tells the story of a dear friend moving away, and the emotion in her deep-throated performance is so strong that you feel as though you knew this person and appreciate the weight of their absence. It’s also a song of encouragement, with its chorus of “get it all out/ put it in a song” being universal and all-encompassing enough to encourage anyone feeling depressed to express themselves by any means possible. On ‘Sagan-Indiana’ she might claim that she’s buried her heart, but her concerns are worn plainly on the surface in her singing; ‘UFO Lighter’ deals with her sorrow at disappointing her friends and family, whether she deserved it or not; ‘Animal & Real’ reminisces about a passionate relationship that helped bring out her wild side (which could in part be a self-actualising anthem, as she certainly seems to be tapping into her animalistic side throughout the album).
Although Georgia’s voice is the undeniable focal point through all of these songs, it can’t be understated how big a part her bandmates play. Thomo on drums is simple yet expressive, mirroring Georgia’s frustrations and faults; meanwhile Kelly’s bass playing is some of the most melodic and graceful in recent memory, often carrying not just the spine of the songs but the main tune too. When, on the title track, Georgia sings “I’ve been riding my bike with no handlebars/ Down empty streets in the dark/ and I think I’m getting pretty good,” you can picture her cruising along with the energy of the barrelling track, being kept on balance by her two bandmates deftly flanking her. The combination is insuppressible throughout How To Socialise, their songs flying true as arrows straight at their intended targets.
The only song on the album where they don’t contribute is the final song, ‘I’ve Got You’. It’s played by Georgia solo on acoustic and is dedicated to her father who passed in late 2016. If her voice throughout How To Socialise is potent, then here it’s veritably deadly; in listening to her tribute for her father it’s hard not to well up or shed a tear – as Georgia does audibly at the end of the recording before announcing “alright I’m done.” Even if Thomo and Kelly aren’t playing on this song, you can feel their love and support in the room. It’s a heartbreaking moment that will leave you wanting to sit in silence for a minute.
Kelly told us that Camp Cope are “very low-key, not really pedantic about everything being super tight and everything being super produced and everything being absolutely perfect.” That, in fact, only plays to their strengths, allowing their songs to soar with the imperfect emotions guiding the way. Somehow these combined imperfections result in several absolutely perfect moments that will keep How To Socialise & Make Friends on rotation for a good while to come.
This article was originally published on The 405 - 5th March 2018.