You’d be forgiven for thinking that Camp Cope would’ve succumbed to regular, ephemeral indie-punk service following their 2018 breakout How To Socialise And Make Friends. You’d also be forgiven for presuming their hype cycle would dip back as quickly as most others, which, to be fair, isn’t entirely untrue. But then again, Camp Cope aren’t a band built to facilitate or withstand tremendous amounts of hype; they’re more humble than that, with a much greater onus placed on their writing and homespun presentation, rather than hitting buzzy criteria that’ll only peter out even harder. So when Running With The Hurricane winds up more reflective and pensive than its predecessor, taking away an already mostly-adjacent punk element for a pivot far closer to alt-country, it makes sense for where Camp Cope are, especially when it’s pulled off this well. Camp Cope aren’t breaking the mould as far as indie-rock like this goes—in terms of being organic and tasteful to a fault, they’re perfectly on par, but like with their last album, this does average out to a higher point than a lot of similar work. Maybe it’s because Georgia Maq can click more as an emotive presence, not only in the details of her writing but in themes that feel more believably rooted, despite the similarities they’ll still bear. The exhalation after great turmoil is a blanketing force, but within that is still vignettes of Maq allowing herself to be vulnerable and in love again, or just contemplating the path that her journey has taken her on up to this point. Fittingly, it’s content that’s a lot better suited to Running With The Hurricane’s alt-country setting, for moments that are more wistful or openly plaintive and where there’s a great freedom of movement.
The appeal is definitely rooted in that mindset, especially when the question of ‘punk’ inevitably arises. The thing is, Running With The Hurricane doesn’t feel designed to be a punk album; it’s the follow-through after the turmoil instead of lodged in the centre of it, and it carries itself as such. It’s primarily carried by acoustics and fleshed out by subtle bass and percussion, really coming into its own in that regard on One Wink At A Time or The Screaming Planet in how they capture the plains and vistas that a sound like this ought to live in. Expecting immediacy yields very little on a significant slow-burn like this, but it’s certainly rewarding to see it play out and wind up as arguably Camp Cope’s most accomplished body of work to date. They wisely avoid the dryness that can so easily plague a sound like this to get there as well, as the vocal harmonies carry a gauziness and a twinkle that’s a huge boon to an otherwise fairly spartan mix, but just on her own, Georgia Maq showcases her talent as a singer wonderfully. She’s probably the best isolated component of the album, where the flecks of her natural Australian accent lend themselves to a more unique personality, but on vocal tone alone, she’s got no issue in getting there. Particularly on the closer Sing Your Heart Out, a pretty stellar piano ballad that’s Camp Cope’s greatest stab at approaching a maturity in their work by a mile, you really get the sense of how deeply the gravity of this album runs, and how much of a turning point for Camp Cope it subsequently feels. It’s the closest they’ve gotten to making that flooring statement that originally insulated their greater arrival, and puts them in a position that opens a lot of doors going forward, in indie, punk, alt-country or any number of other directions. Though that said, where they are currently gives off the impression of having a lot more to mine from them, should the opportunity arise and they can hit another peak all over again.
For fans of: Courtney Marie Andrews, Courtney Barnett, Angel Olsen
‘Running With The Hurricane’ by Camp Cope is released on 25th March on Run For Cover Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall