Camp Cope burst onto the scene in 2016 with an eponymous album that was hailed as a feminist punk manifesto. Two years later they upped the ante – their sophomore album, ‘How to Socialise and make Friends’ included a track so controversial that it ignited a media firestorm that lasted for months. ‘The Opener’ reflected the band’s disgust at the misogyny that they had encountered in the music industry.
Four years later, the band made up of Georgia Maq (songwriter, vocals, piano, acoustic & electric guitar), Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (bass guitar) and Sarah Thompson (drums) are back with a new album ‘Running with the Hurricane’ out on the 25th March via Run For Cover.
If you were expecting to hear another pile-driving polemic from this band you might be disappointed, but if you’re after insightful music with commentary on the post-pandemic human condition, you’re in for around an hour of swooning gorgeousness that will touch your soul.
“I feel like people already know where we stand on everything, because we’ve had to say everything over the time that we’ve been a band. And now I feel we have the luxury of just making a beautiful album because we wanted to make a beautiful album. The world’s ending, we’ve all got jobs, we’re all doing our bit to keep the world turning in a special and different way, and this is just a little treat.”” – Georgia Maq
From the low-key guitar intro of the opening song ‘Caroline’, it is clear that the band has evolved considerably during their covid-enforced hiatus. Maq’s voice has a new-found tenderness and maturity, the harmonies on this song are shimmeringly beautiful. Courtney Barnett is a guest guitarist on ‘Caroline’ and she also appears on ‘Sing Your Heart Out’.
The title track is named after a song by Australian folk rock band Redgum (Maq’s late father, Hugh McDonald was in that band) it is a glorious southern rock song. It would not be out of place on an album by that other Melbourne legend, Jen Cloher. The lyrics reflect the new ethos of the band that ‘The only way out is up’, it’s about overcoming and accepting hardship and moving forward.
‘One Wink at a Time’ is a tender song that again showcases Maq’s vocals. It is amazing how Camp Cope has channelled the fury of their previous albums into the blissful beauty that characterises the songs on this album. This track features another guest-this time it’s Shauna Boyle of the band Cable Ties providing added instrumentation.
‘Blue’, released in November 2021, is a song about being in love while having depression. The lyrics capture the anxiety and doubt of the situation with Maq bringing this lush song about the of fear of losing love firmly into the 2020s by singing about ‘double texting’ and concluding that she has “never been cool”.
“Blue is about love, depression and accepting that nothing external can fundamentally alter what happens inside your own head.”
On ‘The Screaming Planet’ Maq sings about yearning for peace and solitude in a crazy world it’s a gentle waltz that rises euphorically and then just like the emotions expressed in it, the song fades out delicately.
According to the band, ‘Love Like You Do’ is about yearning for connection. It’s a melancholic track with some witty lyrics and lilting bassline. At one point Maq sings about being a Volvo driver-something that she has also posted about on her Instagram account.
‘The Mountain’ shows Maq unafraid to expose her vulnerability with a lover who perhaps does does not share her ardour and to whom she has to run because “the mountain will not come to me.”
‘Say The Line’ has a gentle acoustic melody that allows Maq to showcase her soaring voice in this song about seeking affirmation from a lover.
The last track is ‘Sing Your Heart Out’ and on this album, Maq and Camp Cope have done exactly that. The song has a slow start but builds to an anthemic close with Maq singing “you can change and so can I” and this encapsulates the message of this entire album. Maq has changed, the band has changed, indeed the whole world has changed since 2018 and the message of acceptance and closure is very much a theme of ‘Running with the Hurricane’.
Maq who is a nurse and has been on the frontline vaccinating people during the pandemic, taught herself production so that she was better equipped to capture the band’s sound on this album. She co-produced ‘Running with the Hurricane’ with Ann Laverty. The extra time that the band had in the studio combined with the new skills acquired by Maq have been put to good use and have resulted in an exquisite album.
It is absolutely amazing to witness how much Camp Cope have evolved since they last released an album in 2018. The music is less abrasive but the feminism and the activism are still there in this collection of delicately optimistic songs.
If there is one good thing that has come from the pandemic then it has to be the emergence of Camp Cope as a band with a message that is now delivered with the subtlety and beauty of a wink from a lover.
Pre-order ‘Running with the Hurricane’ here.