Indie favorites Copeland are back for their much anticipated third outing Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Their first release Beneath Medicine Tree was indie rock at its finest, and their second, In Motion, was a bit more structured, with more melodies and catchy choruses. Their third effort continues the progression, providing beautifully articulated musicianship that shows real maturity from a band that is only three records into their career.
Eat, Sleep, Repeat starts in much the same way that Beneath Medicine Tree did, with a two minute leadoff track that introduces the theme of the album. While that previous album had more of a romantic theme, this is a much darker album, and the opening track "Where's My Head?," deals much more broadly with life, love, and the pursuit of… getting a good night's sleep. It's very intriguing the way Eat, Sleep, Repeat progresses.
After "Where's My Head?" has concluded with the line "The only chance that I have tonight, is if something that I ate made my dreams not right, and my love shows up in a dress of white," we move on to the title track, which makes many observations about love. The song is beautifully paced for the content and asks whether it is worth it to even attempt a relationship without a proper understanding of what love is. And in a spiritual twist, it shifts the chorus' first statement, "You had no one to tell you how to love" to the much more specific "When all this time, you didn't know love."
Next up is "Control Freak," which marks the first major shift in the album on a couple of levels. Firstly, the song is decisively catchier than most of the rest of the album, which is much more artistic and breathtaking. Secondly, this song introduced a major problem that comes from a lack of love: insecurity. The chorus to "Control Freak" repeats, "You're freakin' me out. You're freakin' me out" while the verses reflect someone dealing with countless nights of insomnia and all the nonsensical, worrisome thoughts that accompany such a condition. The song masterfully captures the feeling of not being able to sleep, and you will quickly be reminded of nights where you've had the same experience. Thankfully, the song concludes on a bridge that suggests a reckless abandonment of all the ill feelings that have brought the insomniac to this point, "The best part is not knowing just what I threw away." It is also important to note the way Aaron Marsh's voice perfectly inflects with every note in the bridge. That's hard to do, and Marsh gets major points for flawlessly pulling it off.
"Careful Now," the next track, displays how a sense of insecurity can affect relationships. It's the most rock-driven track on the record, and leads oddly well into the next track, "Love Affair," which just so happens to be one of the slowest on the record. It features prominent piano and subtle violins that add just the right effect. There are even some horns during the interlude. The song marks the next major transition in the record, because though the mood is still somber, the attitude is different from here on out. The chorus simply states, "Just let me run where I want to run. Just let me love who I want." Though the song seems to be about a specific relationship, the answer to the album's overall question seems to have been revealed: Love at all costs, no matter what. The rest of the album deals with the weight of that statement.
"I'm Safer on an Airplane" follows "Love Affair," keeping the pace slow and poignant as it talks about the utter importance of hope, peace, and, ultimately, love. "By My Side" is next, and brings the tempo up with a catchy, rock-oriented song that deals with what follows a discovery of the reality and importance of love, and begs for assurance from a special someone that they will always be there. "Cover What You Can" is a short, melodic track that talks about being overwhelmed by the responsibility brought about by the obligation to love, but realizing that there was a time when all of us were dying for just a little bit of love in the first place.
"The Last Time He Saw Dorie" puts the issue addressed on the previous track into story form. It talks about a couple that were in love, but had a falling out. The story is honestly kind of cryptic, but the message sung by guest vocalist Anna Becker at the end of the track is anything but, "Live! Live! Live! Live because you love! Love! Love! And love will make you give! Give! Give! And even when you break! Break! Break! You'll just want to fix yourself, just to break again." The whole song, complete with violins and horns, is done in such a way, that you feel like you're listening to the score for an old French film. It is breathtaking, to say the least.
"I'm a Sucker for a Kind Word" brings the pace back up, once again, as it talks about a sense of selfishness that can invade a relationship, and the guilt that comes upon the realization of such a problem. It is a somewhat odd transition, and I'll readily admit that it still baffles me. But regardless of understanding, it leads up to the album's closer, the spiritual "When You Thought You'd Never Stand Out." Just as Copeland's two previous albums have concluded with a song that sums up the sentiments of the album and relates them to God, the feelings of insecurity, nervousness, and love that is lacking on Eat, Sleep, Repeat are all brought to the forefront. Marsh relates his childhood to the audience, as well as all of his hopes, hurts, and childhood aspirations; and guest vocalist Anna Becker returns again to conclude the album… "Didn't I tell you that I could hear you running out? Didn't I find you when I knew you were hiding out? Didn't I see you when you thought you'd never stand out? Didn't I find you?"
Copeland has a growing fan base, and their recent signing to Columbia Records should only help that cause. Also the fact that this album is a brilliant piece of work shouldn't hurt. Copeland has always been a "word of mouth" kind of band, and with yet another stellar effort to their name now, I don't expect things to change very soon.- Review date: 12/1/06, written by Josh Taylor
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