HOW TO SOCIALISE & MAKE FRIENDS by Camp Cope
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “The Opener,” “How to Socialise & Make Friends,” “The Omen,” “UFO Lighter,” “I’ve Got You”
Someone call the Patriarchy and let them know their time has come.
In their sophomore album, HOW TO SOCIALIZE AND MAKE FRIENDS, the women of Camp Cope are back with a fiery feminist manifesto. Georgia “Maq” McDonald (lead vocals/guitar), Kelly-Dawn “Kel” Hellmrich (bass), and Sara “Thomo” Thompson (drums) have once again produced a lo-fi sound with underground roots that complement any of your favorites from the ‘90s and 2000s. You won’t hear harmonies or major distortions: it’s a candid conversation calling out the haters.
In the wake of the #MeToo and #ittakesone movements, HTSAMF’s first track fits right in; “The Opener” is a collection of misogynistic quotes made against the band. It’s no secret that the music industry is far from perfect, but the sad truth in the lyrics is that the criticism and mansplaining isn’t just from top executives or festival programmers, but friends as well. Similarly, “The Face of God” brilliantly summarizes the self-doubt and incredibility victims face when they come out against culturally powerful “gods.” Although these are the more serious topics that Camp Cope broaches, they also go up against micro-level issues of Patriarchal stereotypes in “The Omen” with lines such as, “I really don’t agree / That your merit is buried in your gender normalities,” and, “I promise I’ll take care of you if you promise to let me.”
You know when you hear a song and it reminds you of something else, but you can’t quite pinpoint what? I spent half a day looking through scores of artists and albums, jumping from related artist to related artist to figure out what it was about Camp Cope that I felt I’d heard before, only to come up empty handed. Though it was nice to stroll down memory lane (The Veronicas, Avril Lavigne, The Goo Goo Dolls, Incubus, The Calling), I realized that what I was hearing on HTSAMF wasn’t so much a specific sound but a compilation of all these artists. Their new album is as much emo- and folk-tinged punk as it is composed like music from the recent past.
The weak spot on HTSAMF is “Anna,” which is difficult to listen to; the low-tempo drums clash with the steady bass and the chorus ends with a wailing of her name. Simply put, it’s a bad combo representing what seems to have been a broken relationship, though I wouldn’t be completely surprised if it was ironically annoying through the touching lyrics. It’s skippable, especially considering its followed by “Sagan-Indiana,” another painful tribute to a woman with similar drums and bass but with more pleasant vocals that don’t drag.
The band’s politicism is inspiring and I understand that with such strong opinions to share it’s important to make sure your message is heard, but I can’t help but feel that the stripped-back simplicity that makes up HTSAMF makes it sound more like a demo than a final product. On the one hand, I was hoping for a bit more from their second album. On the other hand, Kel (bass) and Thomo (drums) contribute a seamless and skilled backdrop for the real sustenance of Camp Cope’s music: the lyrics and vocals. Maq’s timing and punctuation is her main strength, specifically when she pauses for breaths and her selection of syllables to drag out. By dividing the lyrics not at the end of the lines but in the middle of the following ones, or after only the first word, she gives their music an underground punk vibe. Unlike their debut album, Maq has developed an even more conversational tone, which at times has an unfortunate whiny quality (i.e. “Anna” and “Animal & Real”), but luckily fits in with the pissed off, “tired of your bullshit” attitude they’re conveying.
Camp Cope’s best quality is their honest, badass narrative: they tell it like it is and the songs are likely about you. As someone who’s often unable to escape the prevalence of mainstream music, I live for bands like Camp Cope who remind you that music is as much a platform as it is an art form. There are many talented, hard-working women in music who do not get their dues and I’m glad that there’s a generation who will grow up in a world with artists like this to look up to. HTSAMF has a little bit of a throwback feel, but every word is relevant today. Let this album remind you to not take shit from anyone, and for the love of God, help bring an end to mansplaining.