MUSIC: Eat, Sleep, Repeat by Copeland

Chase Tremaine

Sometimes music is just pretty, but Copeland returns with their third full-length to present a delicious offering of well-written and heartfelt ballads that redefine “pretty.”

Copeland:Eat Sleep Repeat” Released October 31, 2006 on The Militia Group Records

4 out of 5 stars

The first thing listeners hear on Eat, Sleep, Repeat is the haunting taps of an echoing glockenspiel. Soon, singer and main songwriter Aaron Marsh comes into the picture as his gentle melodies and soothing croons overcome the song. Next up is Jonathan Bucklew, the drummer and shining instrumentalist of the band. On this opening track, “Where’s My Head?,” his beats come in and out of the song, showing an array of talent and versatility. These two members will help mold the album, whose first track is only a foreshadowing of what’s to come.

I won’t lie, I hated this album upon an initial listen. I immediately enjoyed the aforementioned song, but every single song that followed did nothing for me. But I can never forget the golden rule of music:  people have trouble liking the best of music. If music is truly good, we normally need to listen to it multiple times for our brains to be able to digest and then appreciate what it’s being fed. This rule applies greatly for Eat, Sleep, Repeat, a wonderful album that gets better with each listen.

The following three tracks are pretty-pop masterpieces, crafting memorable melodies and smart harmonies over piano-led rock songs that are both fun to sing along to and easy to take a nap to. The title track boasts questioning lyrics, conversely uplifted by strong vocals and sonic guitars. “Control Freak” may seem like a simple and repetitive tune, but the song actually burns itself upon the memory as its relatable lyrics and its secretly distorted guitars convince listeners that this song should be on an MTV Countdown. Next up is “Careful Now,” the weakest of the trio but possibly the easiest to groove to.

The following song, “Love Affair,” is not only the crowing moment of the record, but one of the best musical moments of 2006. Aaron Marsh really steps up in this song, playing delicately muted piano licks under painful melodies singing lines like, “Was your kiss too weak? Were your eyes too tired? Much too young to be in love… Just let me run where I want to run, just let me love who I want.” After the second chorus, the song goes instrumental, with a guitar solo that is able to bring tears to the eyes. But then the real magic happens: the solo stops, and a Golden-Oldies piano line appears with horns covering the song with emotionally performed notes that sweep away the ears. If “Love Affair” didn’t end with a weak vocal line, this song could be perfect. But this lack of perfection unfortunately leads into the next four songs.

While all of the songs on this album are pleasant to listen to, the album begins to muddle in territories that are either too boring, too static, or too familiar. The themes of the record, finding confusion and loss within love but treading on anyway, continue to unwind themselves, but they could easily bury the listener as well. Even guest vocalist Anna Becker has trouble lifting spirits.

Fortunately, Copeland has two more surprises. The last two songs, “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word” and “When You Thought You’d Never Stand Out,” revive life to the album with upbeat rhythms, peppy guitar strokes, and songwriting as strong as “Love Affair.” “Sucker” actually contains the best chorus on the whole record, with a mood/aesthetic change that is both surprising and heartening. Anna Becker returns on record-closer “Stand Out” to much better effect, as both singers feed off of each other to the result of the album’s most layered piece, which is practically begging for more listens.

One of the best parts of this record is the mixing: sometimes the drums go breakdown-heavy, but you never realize because the drums are so quiet in the mix. Distorted guitars appear throughout, but they never overshadow the peaceful piano. Vocals are clearly the priority, and the vocals are easy to enjoy, so it makes the instrumentation a journey to hear, with more secrets revealed with each repeated spin.

Musically layered with emotion seeping between each layer, Copeland’s Eat, Sleep, Repeat is the band’s best record as of 2009 and 2006’s most essential soft rock CD to own. Whether you are having problems with love, need to remember how great your love needs to be, or even if you just want a new indie album or something to help you fall asleep at night, this album is perfect for you.  Despite its flaws, I can’t recommend it more.

Best songs: “Control Freak” “Love Affair” “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word”