Label: Tooth & Nail
Release Date: 11/24/14
Reviewer: Ian Zandi
- Have I Always Loved You?
- I Can Make You Feel Young Again
- Like A Lie
- World Turn
- In Her Arms You Will Never Starve
A few weeks ago, I randomly decided to go hiking in the nearby foothills of Southern California. When I parked my car at the reservation, I browsed my phone to listen to something beautiful to go with the scenery. I was going to settle for listening to some M. Ward until I came across the early stream of Copeland’s Ixora on Spotify. I eagerly downloaded the album (as fast as music can download in the middle of nowhere anyway) and put my earbuds in preparation for an experience.
The album begins with some light harmonizing, acoustic guitar picking, and Aaron Marsh’s unmistakable vocals. This is very typical of the Copeland that we all know and love. About halfway through the song, the voice pitches are tinkered to fade in and out. This is the first sign of the transition of the old Copeland, to the new Copeland that we never knew we wanted. Thanks to an announcement cleverly planned on April Fools, the indie-rock band reunited to bring us this piece of art.
The guitar is an instrument that is often critical to nearly any genre of music. On Ixora, it is used sparingly. Each strum is intentionally placed and textured on top of synths, piano keys, and Marsh’s voice. In fact, every single note feels like it was meant to be there. Even on the second track, “Disjointed”, the song is exactly what the title implies and still manages to feel organized, intentional, and textural. Oddly enough, Ixora was recorded alongside a twin album which remixes all of the tracks with rerecorded instruments. (I have not heard the twin album but I can only imagine how incredible it must be. When played in sync with the original side, it creates a quadraphonic experience.)
Distancing themselves from the angst lyrics of emo-pop, the topics covered on Ixora tend to be mature. Many of the songs are shrouded in lyrical poetry, detailing revival (I Can Make You Feel Young Again), security (In Her Arms You Will Never Starve), and longing (Lavender). Though Copeland previously dabbled in piano rock, the experimental route that have taken gives a lot attention to Aaron Marsh’s vocals. Instead of merely singing the words, his voice is inserted and layered to actually act as an instrument. The band is not planning on doing much touring but I am interested in seeing how these songs would translate live. The following is a bold statement, but I will stand by it 100%. This album has such excellent production on it, that I would consider it one of the best-produced albums that I have ever heard.
Having a knack for simple song titles on Ixora, “Ordinary” is an ordinary Copeland track. If you are a Copeland fan that does not like the new direction they are taking, this song is for you. It is straight and simple piano song about finding the beauty in the ordinary things. Truly is a beautiful track.
The songs that follow “Ordinary” are such epics, that I am tempted to say that they are better than the first half. I cant say that because it would feel like the first half is not that good at all. There really are no filler tracks here. I cannot find any songs that I would skip over or that I am annoyed by. By every measure of criticizing music, this is a perfect album. Heck, even the cover art is beautiful. This is an aspect that does make me judge the music for better or worse. I am looking at you Tobymac.
Overall: Though it is drastically different than Ixora, my favorite Copeland album was In Motion. With its clever composition, Ixora has definitely gives In Motion a run for its money. In my opinion, they are both my favorite Copeland albums. Both albums have very different tones for different occasions. In the case that I was hiking through the SoCal Inland Empire, Ixora is a beautiful choice. In retrospect, Ixora is actually a genus of flowers. The pairing of nature with this album is perfect.
RIYL: The xx, Death Cab For Cutie, Gungor, Kye Kye, Deas Vaildeas