Camp Cope have seen your patriarchy, and they're having none of it, thank you very much. "It's another man telling us we can't fill up the room." screams singer-guitarist Georgia McDonald on "The Opener." "Well, see how far we've come not listening to you."
After releasing their self-titled debut in 2016, Camp Cope went from being a relatively unknown band in Melbourne, Australia's DIY scene, to a top 40-crashing, multi-award-winning trio in their home country who aren't afraid to share their opinions. And share they do on followup How to Socialise and Make Friends. But the album's heart lies beyond the trio's stinging indictments.
Matching her passionate delivery, the songs on How to Socialise are deeply personal; though McDonald cautions reading too much literal meaning into them, they read like diaristic storytelling. Some, like "The Face of God," thread the needle, successfully marrying social justice and (seemingly) personal trauma, with powerful effects. Yet, it's the moments of pure vulnerability, like "I've Got You," an ode to her dying father, where she sings "I'm so proud that half of me grew from you," that truly transcend.
After bringing her compositions to bass player Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson, the trio fleshed out the songs that would become How to Socialise and Make Friends in about a month and recorded them in just two-and-a-half days. The approach gives the performances a lively loose feel that suits the record's overall vibe. Yet its rushed creation seems to have hobbled the arrangements, as repetitive tone and tempos drag down the album's back half, not the best look for a nine-track record that comes in under 40 minutes.
Nevertheless, the highs on How to Socialise are meteoric while the relative lows are kept afloat by its members' musical prowess and McDonald's ability to wring tension and drama from personal adversity. Far from the stand-offish listen its sarcastic title suggests, expect the album to win Camp Cope plenty of new friends and admirers alike. (Run For Cover)