Every so often, a band comes into the music scene and establishes an enigmatic relationship with their fans. Not in a Radiohead-esque way, but they look just a little bit deeper than everyone else and their fans grow fiercely loyal, just as the haters ruthlessly defend their feelings. Copeland is one of those bands. Three original studio albums into their career on The Militia Group, each has been an exercise in creativity, expansive songwriting, and flamboyant musical excess. Eat, Sleep, Repeat, despite its mundane title, is the pinnacle of the band’s career so far, and both sides of the scene will be coming to blows for years over this CD.
Just as their second album, In Motion, was a step toward the mainstream with edgy songs that bordered the indie rock genre on all sides, Eat, Sleep Repeat is a complete one-eighty. Aaron Marsh has guided the new album about as far from their previous work as possible, while retaining the heart-tugging, emotional songwriting we have come to expect. No longer are Copeland simply emo with a great singer. They have gone a bit experimental this time around, and it will surprise everyone.
Expect heavy distortion layered over several of the songs, interesting timings, and what seems like a full orchestra of instruments. In the title track, the callous distortion adds an ethereal feeling as Marsh dances between revelatory and accusatory tones. “You didn’t know love,” he insists. A quick change of pace (at least for Copeland), and a straightforward pop song packed with emotion called “Control Freak” hits you square in the jaw. Such is the thought given to pacing on Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Any time you feel like you might be getting bored, a more upbeat song is generally coming along soon.
Reminiscent of In Motion is “Careful Now.” It is edgy with offbeat drumming, although the song itself floats along at its own pace, stopping for no one. Similarly, “I’m A Sucker for a Kind Word” ranks among the favorites on Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Aaron Marsh’s utter devotion and frustration is something everyone can empathize with.
Although there are some gorgeous parts of this album, there are also songs leaving the listener wanting something more. “I’m Safer on an Airplane” begins capably, but the lyrics get downright repetitive; the song is saved by having a relatively short runtime. As much as we want to love “The Last Time He Saw Dorie” for the peaceful piano melody, broad instrumentals, and thought-provoking lyrics, the song seems to get lost in the shadows. That said, the female vocals provided by Anna Becker on this song and on the fantastic closer, “When You Thought You’d Never Stand Out,” are a breath of fresh air into this record.
Eat, Sleep, Repeat will be an exceptionally polarizing album. On the surface, the vocals are soaring, the musicianship nearly flawless, and the lyrics introspective. Many will quickly proclaim it their album of the year, and they would not be off base. At the same time, it is not perfect. Copeland revisits many of the same areas they have in the past, and some will tag them as a “boring band”. Add that to the fact that the album isn’t something you can listen to for hours on end, and replayability might be a sticking point. However, those who want an immensely relaxing, reflective forty-two minutes to themselves cannot find a better album this year than Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Embrace what this CD brings to the table because of its uncertainties and chinks in the armor, not despite them. Only then can you truly appreciate the magic lurking in the least obvious places on this record.