Camp Cope came out of nowhere and dropped one of my favorite records of 2016. For the locals of Melbourne, Australia, I’m sure their success was anything but a surprise. To say I enjoyed their debut would be an understatement (it’s currently framed on my living room wall) but they’ve topped themselves with their sophomore record How to Socialise & Make Friends. Their chemistry is even stronger and it feels like they’ve built something genuinely special off the foundation of their debut.
They kick the record off with a familiar sound: a solitary, interesting bass line. Similar to their first opener “Done,” “The Opener” is driven by Kelly Hellmrich’s piercing bass, with Georgia Maq’s steady guitar as a backing layer, and Sarah Thompson’s drums acting like a lantern in the dark, keeping the song on track. The song grapples with sexism running rampant throughout the music scene. It’s a universal criticism and there’s no meaning lost across the thousands of miles from Melbourne to the States. Right out of the gate, with her impeccable ability to portray power and vulnerability, Maq shows why she is one of the strongest voices in music today. Their message is strong and their energy is fierce; there’s no better way to start the album.
“Treat them like queens until they disagree”
Aside from “The Opener”, Maq showcases her vocals best on “Face of God” and “Animal & Real.” The latter walks a very careful line between airy and gritty, comparable to Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan. “Face of God” addresses rape culture in the music scene with blunt lyrics and somber tone. It’s a very fitting song for the state of the music world. “Could it be true? You don’t seem like that kind of guy. Not you, you’ve got that one song that I like,” Georgia sings, full of irony. As more bands are ousted for their shitty behavior, apologists jump to their defense with lines like that. “They say your music is too good.” It’s a sad reality and an uphill battle.
“I’ve been driving way too much. I’ve been too lazy to fix my bike.”
Maq speaks of intimate and personal moments just as well as she does political and social issues. “Anna” is a slow-burner led by Hellmrich’s wandering bass lines. It speaks of songwriting as a means of therapy and, despite being nearly six minutes, the track never drags. It’s very inviting and a great bridge into the middle of the record. Maq has grown to speak with more confidence. Even the moments she’s grown past, she reflects on as if they were learning experiences. There isn’t any humor in her delivery of “we’ve all sold weed for a little while,” but there isn’t any shame either. It’s a healthy confidence in oneself and it’s a great message that’s projected across a lot of her lyrics.
“Sometimes making love is the only time I ever feel loved”
“UFO Lighter” is the standout track on the record. It starts with a melody like a cloudy, rainy day. The track builds up and develops into a blend of confidence and vulnerability. Hellmrich has never been better with the bass. Her bass line following the chorus is infectious and pumps life into the song. It’s one of those riffs that stays with you and you’ll find yourself humming at work. The clouds disperse, the sun comes out, and the band can shine in full force. It’s raw energy and absolutely electric.
Their debut put them out there, but How to Socialise will be their breakout. Big publications have picked them up. They’re coming back over to North America this summer; a few shows with An Horse have already been announced. To quote their last record, “we will not go out in silence and we will not go quietly.” They’ve launched social media campaigns, they’ve called out festival bookings, and it’s only March. Camp Cope has arrived, and they are a band worth following and believing in.