Copeland
Blushing


5.0
classic

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
March 4th, 2019 | 77 replies


Release Date: 02/14/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A scream into the infinite.

Love is one of the greatest injustices in life. You can wander the Earth for eighty some odd years and never meet your kindred soul; a baffling concept that’s as naïve as believing in the tooth fairy – or religion. In spite of this, we all flock to romanticized narrations of our experiences like moths to the flame. We can’t help it – it justifies our meaninglessness by countering the mundanity of our existence with melodrama; with color. As we desperately splash hues upon our canvas, pleading with the colors to make sense – we’re most often disappointed when the outcome doesn’t match the vision in our heads. “But he/she was the one!” is the hopeless refrain of the brokenhearted and desperate, a product of unrealistic expectations fashioned out of the desire – nay, the need – to justify our place on this sad, depressing stone flying through the cosmos for absolutely no reason.

Blushing sees Copeland trying to reconcile the romantic and existential implications of love through the lens of a dream. We’ve all been there before: the locking of eyes, the ensuing rush of excitement, that tantalizingly playful touch…and then you wake up. You shut your eyes as hard as you can, hoping to force your way back into that alternate reality where happiness was just barely out of reach – and instead you dream of blackness, nothingness. On Blushing, Marsh dives deep into this world, inviting us to let our guard down with him while exploring the most vulnerable conditions of human existence.

From the beginning, Blushing glazes over one’s senses with a dreamlike ambience. The delicate piano flutters and distant, wailing falsetto – all accelerated by somber strings and Marsh’s lyrical fluidity (“But it's getting dark, I can feel it / Still your body curves, it bends like time / And your soul gleams, like I should steal it”) – make ‘Pope’ the perfect song to send us plummeting into his dream world. Accented by hints of romanticism and a couple gorgeous, softly-whispered nudges of “are you awake?” - by an idolized and ever-mysterious feminine figure - all contribute to the atmosphere of Blushing; one that disarms you with its close proximity while ensnaring your senses and emotions with an addictingly melancholic aura. The melodrama is already in full swing after just one song, as we hang on Marsh’s every word and sway along to Blushing’s love-drunk whims like patrons on an amusement park ride. Could Copeland have constructed a better analogy for falling in love than dreaming, where we’re helpless either way and equally unaware of what is real?

If ‘Pope’ is the moment where we take that proverbial leap, then the rest of the album entails the story of falling in love with someone, or the concept of a person, who is but a mere figment of your imagination. Marsh constantly acknowledges this in his writing, such as in ‘Lay Here’, when his high-pitched falsetto cuts through a sea of sleepy electronics to sing, “You're sweet like wine against my lips / How it lingers”, or in ‘As Above, So Alone’, where he forlornly laments, “Even when your words fail, I still can feel it.” The latter alludes to how differently emotions are expressed in a dream; rarely does the object of affection ever speak, instead substituting a tacit connection that lingers long after the dream is over...like "wine against one’s lips." These songs are more about Marsh's infatuation with this dreamt up, ideal woman than it is an actual relationship. I’m reminded of the 2013 film Her, in which Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an artificially intelligent virtual assistant not too dissimilar from Siri (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The movie covers a lot of themes about unconventional romance, and there are parallels in the way that Aaron marsh writes and sings about this imagined soul mate. Both works imply that love, as a construct of imagination (perhaps its only form), is both limitless and beautiful - even if it often drives us to madness.

Although every song on Blushing has specific “moments” worthy of their own dissertations, there are a handful of notable apexes. Aside from the brilliant opener, ‘Pope’, one of the most breathtaking songs comes via the mesmerizing, artistic wit of ‘Skywriter’ – a track that is perhaps worth more on paper than it is in a studio. Marsh poses questions that appear, on the surface, to be the frustrated exhales of a hopeless romantic: “What's the use in loving you if it just makes me crazy?” / “What's the point of taking your hand if we just turn and walk away?” In the context of Blushing, however, they take on a greater magnitude: what’s crazier than loving a girl from your dreams ?Is it any less crazy than thinking love exists in the real world, or that your “other half” is somewhere out there waiting for you? Is love anything more than what we make it?He then sings, “Some nights he screams into the infinite / Tries to write a line that will outlive him.” At first I interpreted this as a soundwave screamed into space, but he could also be talking about actually writing a line that transcends his own existence – that people would still read and reference after his death. The fact that just a couple of verses could result in so many possible interpretations is a testament to Marsh’s lyrical prowess, and ‘Skywriter’ brings a distinct existential dimension to the narration. Aaron makes it clear that his search for romance is but a crutch; a substitute for a much larger void that likely can't be fulfilled. The concept is symbolized within the album's artwork, where the "dream girl" - who should be the one obscured - appears entirely clear, while the person she is kissing (presumably Marsh) is blurred out; his identity entirely in question.

All of this tension subtly builds to Blushing's epicenter, ‘Colorless’, which is a culmination and subsequent release of kinetic energy. Marsh doubts his own sanity (“These days I'm terrified of silence / My thoughts unbearable in the quiet”) and you can begin to feel his emotions crumble to the ground (“Were we colorless anyway?"). All of this precedes an earth-shattering guitar solo that feels like it’s straight out of the playbook of Foxing, Manchester Orchestra, or Brand New. Finally, the mayhem sticks a soft landing on this cloud of swelling strings and brass, as Aaron laments, “Ohh-ohh, I can't save myself.” The entire song is a marvel to behold, and the sheer energy that emanates from it is enough to send shock waves throughout the rest of Blushing – leaving listeners still trembling in its reverberations long after the album’s run time has expired.

If ‘Colorless’ is the record's musical fault line, then ‘Strange Flower’ is its emotional zenith. It ties together nearly every motif that Blushing sets into motion, all before engaging in the most heart-wrenching outro I’ve heard in any modern indie-rock piece: “Call me crazy, some nights I think it's true / Call me desperate, at times I am for you / Call me 'fuck up', at least I pull myself up.” The entire section feels like a revelation, this heartbreakingly sincere admission of need and vulnerability, stated so clearly that it’s enough to make you misty-eyed. It functions as something of a resolution: Marsh is admitting he that he needs this woman, this concept of perfection, in order to validate himself - something that makes him weak but also very much human. At this precise moment, the worlds of romance, existence, and identity all intersect, and he wakes up, not coincidentally, to his name. The spoken-word track ‘It Felt So Real’ is an extension of that outro’s finality, concluding the dream by returning to the softly whispered female voice that began the whole experience - almost like the finger snap to end a hypnosis: “We were dancing and there were people everywhere, but no one could see us / No one else could hear the music / The people disappeared, and the music stopped / I was trying to say things, but the only thing that would come out was just your name / Over and over, just your name / And then you just smiled, like you woke up.

So, what is Blushing?On the surface, it's a collage of loosely-related romantic ideas. However, it's also a melodramatic tale of falling in love with an imaginary woman who symbolizes an ever-evasive deeper purpose - one that, like a dream, always seems just out of reach. It’s acknowledging that love comes in many forms, and that it’s mostly what you make it. It's realizing that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a necessary step to achieving happiness, or any sort of purpose or clarity. It’s a personal journey with universal implications, performed as Copeland’s magnum opus. It is the line that will undoubtedly outlive Marsh, his “scream into the infinite” on the behalf of so many frustrated and heartbroken souls who are still waiting to see the color in their lives; it's his answer...his purpose on this forsaken planet. Most of all, it's inspiration to rediscover love and existence; to learn the colors that define you and to paint your entire world in them.

Now, go write your own infinite line.



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user ratings (308)
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 STAFF (4.6)
you never kiss me when we're dancing / you just grab my shoulders tryina wake me up...

Lucman (5)
Waking From A Dream...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
March 4th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Review #400. Special thanks to Rowan for giving me his blessing to steal/share the thunder, and to provide the ever-so-important 5.0 counterpoint to his 4.6. This album hit me like a freight train and continues to unravel with every listen. Definitely one of my favorite albums in my 10 (nearing 11) years on this site, and it was the only thing I could think to review that would represent such an illustrious writing milestone. Many thanks as well to all of you who regularly follow/read my reviews; this one's for you!

Digging: Patrick Watson - Wave

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2019


16815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Goddammit Sowing, you gonna make me 4.5 this shit again. No, but seriously, fantastic review, the first para specially, good stuff. I think my problem with the lyrics comes from my personal detachment to them. I can see the quality, and I love how he carries the concept throughout the album, even more after reading your review, but I feel like a voyeur watching someone else from a window on another building, if that makes sense.



Anyway, congratulations on #400!

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

Lucman
March 4th 2019


3394 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Congrats on the 400 Sowing, that's a staggering amount of reviews! Absolutely stunning writeup too. I think all three of us have done this record great justice. It is indeed a classic worth celebrating, could not say it better myself.



EDIT: Hey, this is my 2000th comment lol. Perfect!

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Surviving

butt.
March 4th 2019


5182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well hey, you couldn’t have picked a better album for #400! Glad to see others truly drowning in this album like I am. Excellent write-up.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2019


16915 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mega congrats, can't wait to give this a spin finally in your honor (:

keza
March 4th 2019


470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What a great review. What a great album.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 4th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks fellas. I really tried to delve into the intricacies of the album's main themes but in all honesty I still feel like I came up short. Even as I read this review I can think of additional things I would liked to have said. I could write about this album forever.

Chambered79
March 4th 2019


428 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review

JS19
March 4th 2019


7375 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good write up but I can't say I'm getting it

Digging: Floating Points - Crush

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 4th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

What's holding you back JS?

The main appeal for me is the lyrics, I think without relating to them so intensely this would just be in the 4-range for me musically. But the way Marsh writes about love, dreams, existence, identity et al is so powerful and makes for such an immersive album conceptually.

nolerthebowler
March 4th 2019


4022 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

all about the atmosphere to me

Digging: Nujabes - Luv(sic) Hexalogy

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 4th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Absolutely; the atmosphere is consistent without ever feeling homogeneous or stale. Every song has a twist that shakes up the monotony and lyrics that dig at the soul.

dmathias52
March 5th 2019


968 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Brilliant review Sowing! Captures my feeling every time I listen to this, which is often. Have you been able to give their discography a check yet?

Digging: Stuck Out Here - Until We're Each Someone Else

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 5th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks so much! I've still only heard this and Ixora, but I plan to go through their entire discography over the course of 2019.

butt.
March 5th 2019


5182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't forget about From Indian Lakes! They share a few similarities with these guys and are currently touring together.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 5th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm glad you keep reminding me about them because I've always been intrigued by From Indian Lakes, I just keep getting distracted by awesome albums such as this. Don't worry, will do!

butt.
March 5th 2019


5182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha very understandable. Lots of good shit out there, impossible to find time for it all

BigHans
March 5th 2019


30331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Severely impressed by this review.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 5th 2019


32488 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I was going for that, thanks BigHans :-) glad to see you were also impressed by the album!

BigHans
March 5th 2019


30331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah its pretty great. Dude you should try Ry X - Dawn sometime.



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