Camp Cope, and especially their leader Georgia Maq, always carry their emotions firmly on the surface – it’s almost as if they can’t operate any other way. The most affecting songs on their second album, How To Socialise & Make Friends, showed their sneering disapproval and downright anger toward male misogyny they’ve experienced in their musical career and personal lives. Four years on we have Running With The Hurricane, and, now that they’re a well-established band with fans all around the world, nobody can try to put them in their place anymore. That doesn’t mean that everything’s all cool and calm for Maq, nor her bandmates; bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson. Even if their musical career has been on the rise, personal problems, depression and disappointment are still prominent.
Running With the Hurricane’s opening two tracks give us an intriguing dichotomy of the ways that the trio deal with them. Interestingly, they decide to start the album on a downbeat with “Caroline”, Maq admitting straight off the bat that she’s been seeing her own death and giving strangers head. As the song progresses, her bandmates subtly build the song around her continuing confessional until it’s a richly melancholic ode to self-betterment. It’s a truly gut-wrenching return.
The script is then flipped for the following “Running With The Hurricane”, which takes its title from one of Maq’s father’s songs, and his spirit infuses her passion. It follows the same theme of being down in the dumps, unable to shift the weight of depression, but this time Camp Cope rip through it, making a downright barroom rocker filled with sunbeam harmonies. By the triumphant finale, it feels as if Maq is using the memory of her father to power her up and out of her mental pit.
Running With The Hurricane continues to circle these ideas, finding catharsis in admissions of guilt and bad behaviour, but uncovering the strength to move forward in the love of those they know and have known. On the more wistful end we have songs like “One Wink At A Time” and “Say The Line”, which are truly lovely. This is especially because Maq has found ways to make her already-incredible voice sound even more gorgeous as she effortlessly reaches into a higher register in the most puncturing moments of openness.
However, as they’ve proven previously, Camp Cope’s songs are more impactful when they bear their teeth a little more. Early single “Blue” is a great example of this; Maq weaving a twisted web of confusion about an uncertain relationship, but ultimately cutting through the noise with forthright admissions of affection but accepting that the other person has to be themselves; it’s equal parts loving and frustrated, and it comes off perfectly. Similarly, “Jealous” takes Maq’s unresolved feelings towards another and lays them out with thudding honesty; “I’m so jealous / My love I’ll run you down,” she sings over a gliding and slick arrangement. It seems like a truly painful admission for Maq – that is until she admits “Yeah, I’m so jealous / of your dog.” Whether this last bit is a petty joke or a weak deflection away from her true feelings isn’t clear – it’s probably different to Maq herself depending how she’s feeling about that person that day.
While Maq is certainly the focal point of Camp Cope, it would be remiss to gloss over the contributions of her bandmates. Thompson – or ‘Thomo’ as she’s known – is the eldest of the band by a little distance and she is the de facto elder sibling in their personal dynamic; the same could be true of her drumming, it’s never flashy or attempting to steal the show, she always provides a perfectly attuned framework for the others to build around. Meanwhile, Hellmrich’s bass is the secret weapon of the album. She’s always played in a more melodic way than most bassists, but on Running With The Hurricane she is truly the instrumental core of the group, providing a perfect counterpoint to Maq’s flighty vocal runs with melodies that simultaneously harmonise with the singer’s emotions and drive the songs forward.
While it’s natural to miss the overt fierceness of Camp Cope’s earlier work, it’s not unexpected that they’d shift gears a little. It’s something they seem to admit in the album’s final singalong repetition at the end of “Sing Your Heart Out”; “you can change and so can I”. Camp Cope have, they can be proud of the people they’ve become: Maq and Hellmrich are now approaching 30, the former has been working as a nurse through the pandemic and the latter is now expecting a child; they’re a long way from the rabble rousers of half a decade ago. Their punk spirit is still there, but has been buried a little under the weight of heartfelt emotion, bolstered instrumentation and sugary harmonies – all of which work beautifully for these songs. Camp Cope have made an album for themselves, to bring some unity through honesty and self-expression. They can certainly be proud of that.