Australian band Camp Cope doesn’t shy away from honesty, and its sophomore album How to Socialise & Make Friends is a jarring indictment of sexism, the music industry and sexual assault. Particularly “The Face of God,” a somber song that presents a familiar scene: a victim coming to terms with an assault, and its oft-painful emotional trajectory.
Lead singer Georgia “Maq” McDonald’s voice often comes across harsh, but the lyrics paint the scene slowly, with pauses that fracture lines into fragments, echoing a stuttering recollection. She bitterly throws out: “I bet you didn’t even think about what you did,” but on the very next line, she counters with uncertainty, “Could it be true?” quickly adding, “you don’t seem like that kind of guy.”
Swallowed by self-doubt, Maq turns the narrative against itself, harshly berating herself for going to see her assaulter, a fellow musician, when “every light on the way was screaming at me, red.” She’s repeating the accusations most survivors of sexual assault face, and as she questions his motives, she begins to question her own credibility as a witness.
The cruelest moment comes when Maq yells, “And I saw it, the face of god / And he turned himself away from me / And said I did something wrong / That somehow what happened to me was my fault.” Why don’t people report? “The Face of God” tells us. Was she a “good” witness? How can she accuse someone when it’ll disrupt the status quo? It’s “easier” to let it go. She tries to convince herself it couldn’t have happened, because “your music is too good.” Each time she sings that line slower and it grows faint: like she’s giving up. It’s far easier to erase a memory of cruelty and decide your feelings weren’t true than speaking up and upending those around you.