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Sunday Sounds: Copeland, “Erase”

It’s always gonna be music that brings me back.

A few years ago, one of my favorite bands, Copeland announced they were no longer going to make music together. Although there have been many amazing groups from my teenage years that have called it quits (Acceptance and Northstar quickly come to mind) this particular disbanding stung just a little bit more than the others because of the album that they had just released, You Are My Sunshine. The fall of 2008 into the spring of 2009 was rife with changes and overall just a tough year, but that album helped me get through it. To this day I still go to that aching emotional place any time I hear “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song).” Then again, even without the personal history, I’m sure that song could break me down.

Fast forward to spring of this year: Copeland announced they were reuniting to create a new album called Ixora. There was nothing that could keep me from getting my hands on it. My fervor was rewarded and those of us that pre-ordered were given a digital copy last weekend.

Ixora is a masterpiece. Solid and coherent, it’s ethereal, atmospheric, and irresistible with its sincerity. While the album is stunning as a whole, each song stands on its own, all while maintaining a thread throughout.

“Erase” in particular deftly illustrates the range of the album. Falling in after the comparatively confident “I Can Make You Feel Young Again”, which radiates certainty and assurance throughout, “Erase” is more finely drawn in its intention. Lyrically, it’s subtle song, keen in its imagery, slowly building one idea upon the next, suffusing the listener with its portrait of nearly ineffable, unrelenting connections. There’s a poignant push and pull between nostalgia and frustration with a hint of acceptance.

The music acutely complements the lyrics. “Erase” begins simply, with only vocalist Aaron Marsh and a piano gently lulling you into the song, patiently allowing the lyrics to sink in. Soon, guitars follow as the language slowly moves from the metaphoric to the emotionally specific. Then, the strings sweep in, elevating the sincerity and intensity. Finally, as the bittersweetness of the lyrics become more evident, with Marsh singing “You’re still a breeze upon my skin / close my eyes, breathe you in. / I’m still the shadows in your night, / taking over, until I fade into your light,” the drums and bass complete the picture and heighten the aggression.

It’s the final verse that cuts the deepest though. It’s layer upon musical layer with Marsh allowing his signature falsetto to blend with it– it’s just one element to emphasize the haze. That is, until the final line shines brightly, “I can’t help this awful feeling / that I can’t erase you.” It’s a short line, but an important one, reversing the influence from narrator to subject. A short instrumental breakdown follows before the song ends on an elegantly slow swell of strings. It leaves you still reeling from the admission that you can never know how much others will affect us and how little we can control it.

I am patiently (but excitedly!) awaiting my physical copy, but for those who missed out on the pre-orders from their official website, Ixora is set to release on iTunes tomorrow, but since I’m posting this late PST, it’s probably already up. Buy it now!

Copeland has a handful of shows between now and February, so if you’re somewhere in the South/South Atlantic, go!