The world may be melting around us in more ways than one, but we’re still entitled to beauty. In fact, that need for beauty is amplified.
After a fiercely political album, the promotion of said album and a pandemic to top it all off, Melbourne trio Camp Cope just wanted to make something beautiful—or, as lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Maq puts it, “a little treat.” The band, made up of Maq (who also released a synth-forward solo record, Pleaser, in 2019), bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson, emerged on the Melbourne scene in 2016 with their self-titled debut, followed by 2018’s How to Socialise and Make Friends, which quickly found an audience in the U.S., too, as Americans grappled with the fallout of the #MeToo movement. How to Socialise…’s searing centerpiece, a song revolting against sexism in the music industry called “The Opener,” gripped listeners with Maq’s quivering, rage-filled vocal delivery of lines like, “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up the room / It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue.”
Camp Cope’s third album, Running with the Hurricane, trades that thundering punk for lighter fare. It’s brimming with just as much emotion, but the band this time focus more on personal triumphs and tribulations for inspiration, making their characteristically electrifying songs feel raw in a different way. The album opens with a serving of yearning in the form of “Caroline” (one of two tunes that features Courtney Barnett on additional instrumentation), a lovesick song that perhaps fittingly opens with lousy feelings: “I’ve been seeing my own death, I’ve been laying down, I’ve been going down giving strangers head,” Maq deadpans. She’s down on her luck again on “Love Like You Do,” singing, “It’s been a 15-year losing streak / Love became a currency, it’s been me paying it all back.” And romantic woes repeatedly take control on the album’s lead single “Blue,” in which Maq openly admits, “I’m double texting / No, I’ve never been cool.”
Maq thrives on frankness, a quality that makes Camp Cope’s songs incredibly intimate and immediate. “The Mountain” is a prime example, as Maq recounts a time she responded to “Why do you love me?” with “I can’t help it, I just do / There’s something about you.” Another high point comes during “Jealous,” which finds a narrator so enraptured by and longing to be close to someone new, she’s “jealous of your dog” and, in a nod to “Blue,” “still double texting.”
The album’s title comes from a song of the same name by Redgum, Maq’s late father’s band. So the title track rightly feels like a tether for the album, a swarm of keys, drums and steady punk guitar, as Maq emerges from a metaphorical hole and triumphantly shouts, “I can stretch my legs and run / I’m taking my place, running with the hurricane.” And there’s another moment of realization on “One Wink at a Time,” in which she encounters a “ghost” and grieves before healing, finally: “Broke my heart until it opened,” she sings. “I let the whole world inside.”
The band’s strong, clear-eyed style of rock music—something like Sleater-Kinney’s more melodic side—is more polished on Hurricane. The songs deliver varying degrees of catchiness, but that’s OK, because Maq, Thompson and Hellmrich sound even more confident and comfortable with each other than on previous records. One such display of collaboration, “The Screaming Planet,” features some lovely harmonies while facing “the unknown,” and takes a cue from pop-rock outsiders like Ani DiFranco and Liz Phair to craft an existentialist ballad.
Hurricane frequently deals with the transactional nature of love and relationships, but it’s at its best when it focuses on personal growth. Album closer “Sing Your Heart Out” starts as a lullaby not unlike those of British singer Birdy, but it sparks and grows to an explosion that matches its title. The repeated line “You can change and so can I” feels like a fitting way to end this album—it’s forward-looking and optimistic. If How to Socialise… was the beginning of a new era for the band, this album feels like the middle of something, like there’s more coming down the pipeline. Just as its title and title track suggest, storms are going to come no matter what, so learning to run alongside them—instead of away from them, or just waiting for them to pass—is the key to finding a little light and peace in this often shadowy world.
Ellen Johnson is a former Paste music editor and forever pop culture enthusiast. Presently, she’s a copy editor, freelance writer and aspiring marathoner. You can find her tweeting about all the things on Twitter @ellen_a_johnson and re-watching Little Women on Letterboxd.