Contrary to T.S. Eliot’s sentiments, January often does feel like the cruelest month. The celebrations of December have faded into yesteryear, and the promises we’ve assured ourselves of–mainly, that this year will be different–are slowly starting to strike us as untrue as we realize that our best-laid plans may be just that.
Oddly enough , it’s in the context of January blues that Melbourne trio Camp Cope’s latest track more relevant than ever. “Keep Growing” (released 11/18/16 via Poison City Records; also available on their record with Cayetana, Split [1/20/17 via Poison City Records]) is as much a promise for the future in the midst of instability as it is a personal rallying cry and release of emotions.
Listen: “Keep Growing” – Camp Cope
Amid the deep bass that gives the song its steady backing, singer/guitarist Georgia Maq’s vocals take prominence. As the song begins, Maq, in frustrated tones, describes her indecision and lack of action (“Still can’t decide whether I wanna/Waste money or waste my time”), setting the song’s indigo mood. It’s clear from its very first lines that “Keep Growing: straddles the line between singer-songwriter acoustics and the attitude of grunge-influenced rock. All the raw vulnerability is there, but it’s laced with a heavy dose of angst, partially directed at the person who wronged her and partially directed inward.
Still can’t decide whether I wanna
Waste money or waste my time
I’ll probably stay inside
Never really been the social type
And I’ll still try to stand tall
No, that’s not me in the back row no more
So I’m not gonna walk like I’m in your shadow anymore
Even with all the self-reflection in the first few lines, it’s important to note that though Maq muses that she’ll probably “stay inside,” there’s no indication that she’s hiding. Rather, those past events that are only alluded to are spurring her to step forward and open up–and by extension claim her own action (or inaction) as valid, since whatever she is doing now means that she is doing it independently of the “shadow” of that person who had previously tried to eclipse her.
The song’s chorus is radical in way it makes its statement. Maq’s seemingly-simple assertion that she’ll “keep growing [her] hair out” is actually anything but. By laying claim to her hair, Maq is by naming her body as, first and foremost, her own. She twists the dumped-sad-girls-cut-their-hair trope into an assertion of power–and we feel it in every syllable as Maq yells “It’s not for you!”
I’ll keep growing my hair out
I never wanna do anything, even when you’re around
I’ll keep growing my hair out
It’s not for you
Which makes the chorus a personal rallying cry, the aforementioned hair a source of personal rebellion. Each time it’s repeated, Maq seems to gain strength from reaffirming its truth–a manifesto to cling to and yell from the rooftops after the turmoil of a failed relationship. And though there’s a sense that there may be a ways to go (“Maybe I haven’t learned anything”), Maq has already come so far in building herself back up–the poignant self-awareness and her use of past tense in the matching line “I loved you more than anything” is a testament to how much she’s grown in the space of the song.
Camp Cope’s “Keep Growing” is a testament to rebuilding after heartbreak and the power that process takes – which makes it all the more accessible in a season of turmoil and new beginnings. Turning self-reflection into empowerment is something we could all use a bit more of.
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cover photo © Sian Sandilands