There are some albums that you buy or stream for its mindless, entertaining quality. Then there are those standout records which cause you to stop everything you’re doing and pay attention. LPs centered around powerful, provocative, and challenging songwriting while the music adds to each story’s message. These are the albums that leave a lasting mark years from now, which is what Camp Cope‘s sophomore record, How To Socialise & Make Friends, is.
Each of the nine songs on How To Socialise & Make Friends follows a familiar approach. Front woman Georgia Maq’s emotive vocals and lyrics are at the center, reeling us in with every soul-churning word and combative phrase. Unlike many trios, however, Maq’s guitar playing stays mostly in the background. Instead, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich’s pulsating bass and Sarah Thompson’s delicate drumming create the emotional foundation from which Maq’s stories are formed.
The album’s lead track, “The Opener”, for instance, starts innocently with a low-key approach, but it slowly grows into an edgy and forceful finish. The guitars and rhythms go from soothing and melodic to feverish and aggressive. The approach complements Georgia Maq’s vocals and lyrics as she takes on the misogyny that exists in the world and within the music industry. She essentially delivers two massive middle fingers to the hypocrites and all the men who think they know better than three young women.
“It’s another man telling us we cannot fill up the room.
It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue.
Now I hate common girls who are only thinking about you.
We’ll see how far we’ve come.
Not listening to you!
Yeah just get another female or a pinup and that will fill the court up.”
A gritty yet enrapturing rocker explodes on “How to Socialise & Make Friends”, which is another fuck you to all the manipulators in the world, specifically cheating husbands who are ruining multiple women’s lives. It is also an anthem of resilience and perseverance, a song made for everyone who constantly faces significant odds just to make it through the day.
Running away, however, does not always yield answers, as described on the trembling beauty that is “Sagan-Indiana” and the introspective “The Omen”. On the former, Maq’s vocals are forceful while Hellmrich’s bass line reflects the pounding, lonely heart of a person spending Christmas Day alone. The latter is a young woman wishing for the days of innocent, blissful love and in the comfort of someone she loved since she was 17. But for that to happen, they both must heel themselves.
“And for all the things I’ve seen,
There’s still some wounds that I need to clean.
But let’s move far away from here
When I finally get my degree,
And we’ll live happily.
Get some rescue dogs in a house by the sea
And I promise I’ll take care of you
If you promise to let me.”
Where the trio really shine are when they subtly and not so subtly address some of the world’s darkest secrets. On the stunning but unnerving twin pieces, “Face of God” and “Anna”, sexual harassment and violence are the foci. As Hellmrich and Thompson’s rhythms stream in the background, Maq tells the tale of one woman’s experience and her conflicting emotions. The former describes the moment where the protagonist decides to leave. To escape. But instead of finding someone waiting to help her, she is blamed for her situation.
“And I saw it, the face of God and he turned himself away from me.
And said I did something wrong,
That somehow what happened to me was my fault.
You can see it in apologists and hear it in the songs.”
The latter reveals the emotional and psychological pain and turmoil. There is the deep yearning of missing the person who was abuser because loneliness is an assailant she’s not ready to confront. The song is a wonderful piece of songwriting.
“Bed bound doesn’t feel the same without you.
You are the other half.
The missing parts.
The sleepless muse,
And you said I’ve got a lot of problems
And one of them is always you.
But I’m fine with that,
Let’s just work on it.
I mean you’ve got yours, too.
The album ends with two personal numbers. The riveting “UFO Lighter”, which features an outstanding bassline from Hellmrich, is Maq sharing memories from her youth and how they’ve influenced her today. From revealing to her mother that she is never “gonna work for a bank” to feeling love through meaningless sex to an accident that nearly took her life, the stories reveal one thing – that Maq, like many women past, present, and still to come, is a survivor. Her strong-willed nature comes from her late father, to whom she dedicates the finale, “I’ve Got You”. Her father was Hugh McDonald of Australian folk-rock band Redgum, and on this track she describes his final days and how:
“I’m so proud that half of me grew from you.
All the broken parts, too.”
As the album comes to a close, it would be easy to call Georgia Maq (vocals/guitar), Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (bass), and Sarah Thompson (drums) as the band and voice of the #MeToo movement and generation. Although there is truth to the sentiment, categorizing them in such a way ignores the impact they have on all genders and sexes and people of all ages. How each and every song on How To Socialise & Make Friends captures the feelings of all and the inequalities that have existed for centuries. The band, this album, and its nine songs, as such, are not merely relevant to the here and now. They are the totems on which we tell our histories for future generations to learn. They are the trailblazers, of whom stories will be told in the future.
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