I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a more highly anticipated album drop in the Aussie music scene. Camp Cope have taken both that scene and the world by storm with their heartbreaking lyrics and beautiful compositions, and on March 2nd they drop How to Socialise & Make Friends. The hype is real, mates. Expectations are high. Prepare for those expectations to be completely shattered because this Melbourne three-piece have delivered a strong contender for album of the year. I knew this album was going to be amazing. I did not anticipate just how blown away I would be hearing these nine perfect songs.
The aptly-titled opening track The Opener puts a voice to the struggles of being a new band made up of non-men in the Aussie scene (and everywhere else for that matter) and the pursuit of being taken seriously. This song received a lot of attention recently when front person Georgia Maq changed the lyrics when performing at the iconic Aussie Falls Festival this year, calling out the festival organisers with “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up a tent / it’s another fucking festival booking only nine women” (which was sung to a packed tent of punters who showed up just for them). A familiar story to many people who attend and play gigs. This song chronicles the struggles of being taken seriously, of being heard, of being respected, of not putting up with this misogynistic shit any longer. It’s a song I wish someone had written when I started attending male-dominated gigs in Sydney, where each show I had to explain I wasn’t someone’s girlfriend, I wasn’t someone’s friend, I was there myself for the music, I was a fan. The Opener calls for inclusion, it calls for respect, but most of all it is a war cry that unites us all.
This album is full of the beautiful, folky story telling the Melbourne punk scene is becoming known the world over for. Listening to this album is like having a session with Camp Cope: we’re all enjoying a few drinks, we hear some compelling stories, and when it’s time to go home, your soul is at peace because it has been restored and rejuvenated by hanging out with your favourite people. Tracks like How to Socialise & Make Friends and Sagan-Indiana are perfect examples of this. Every element of these arrangements complements the others perfectly. Listening to them compares to the satisfaction of clicking that last jigsaw piece into place, of finishing a plate of home cooking, of beating every level of Smash Brothers. This album will heal your weary bones.
This wouldn’t be a Camp Cope album without a certain amount of absolute tear jerkers. Georgia Maq’s voice is perfectly suited to ripping your heart to shreds with her powerfully poignant stories. Anna and I’ve Got You had me in tears the first time I heard them, the vocals soaring over an ocean of music, completely in sync with each other, moving together to a beautifully sad conclusion. Every song on this phenomenal album teaches us we aren’t alone, comforts us through hard times, and gives the warmest of hugs with each splashy cymbal and hypnotic bassline.
I know I haven’t gone too technical about the actual music in this review, but I feel the strongest endorsement of this album is that it made this old jaded cynic, who mistrusts everything, actually feel something. Whether it is pulling little bits of my heart out at a particularly moving story like The Face Of God or a certain sense of comfort, joy, relief, peace, you name it, which is present in such tracks as Animal & Real or UFO Lighter, this album is moving, powerful, important. It will cause ripples this year. New fans will discover the beauty of this Melbourne band, old fans’ adoration will be triply reinforced, and the haters are going to be real angry that these strong minded, determined women told it how it is once again, and they aren’t afraid to call you the fuck out. In twenty years’ time, we will all be sitting around at the pub, enjoying a pint and gushing about the way How to Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope changed our lives, how in 2018 we called it out as the iconic masterpiece that it is, and now here in 2038 it is as prolific as Blue, or Lemonade, or Horses.
Camp Cope have overcome hardship, discrimination, even outright hatred by people who found them ‘too’ angry, speaking out of turn, daring to challenge gender stereotypes and not tolerate any form of sexism, racism, and any other ‘-ism’ you could think of. They have had the last laugh though, with sold out shows across Australia and the States, a critically acclaimed debut album and the eyes of the world watching them. They have proven themselves to be major players in the music scene, and with this latest offering, the sky is the limit for this important, important band. Do yourself a favour and sit back and listen to an album that will stay with you forever.