Review Summary: You will never starve, you will never freeze.
In the interest of clarity, I'm hesitant to label Ixora
"experimental indie", partly because of how lame it sounds and partly because that would inevitably conjure up wild expectations. Comparisons to The Antlers' forward-thinking Burst Apart
, or perhaps Bon Iver's genre-blending sophomore release, are expectations which clearly Copeland have no intention of meeting even if they were equipped to do so. That said, Ixora
is not You Are My Sunshine 2
and nor should it have been. Simply put, Ixora
is Copeland back from their beauty sleep refreshed and lively.
Clear standout "Erase" is perhaps a microcosm of the album Copeland fans were expecting, with a classic Marsh vocal-piano combo in the song's first half sounding like a blueprint for the phantom You Are My Sunshine 2
. Of course, this is too straight-forward for 2014 Copeland so a gear change halfway through kicks the song into a powerful full-band jam the likes of which fans have been yearning for since "California". "Like a Lie" sounds like what the disappointing Marsh side project 'The Lulls in Traffic' should have been, a groovy R&B-esque jam without the dead weight of Ivan Ives' tedious rapping. The groovy beat propels an addictive chorus of "Feels like a lie when I hold you/Feels like a lie when it comes true", sounding like a stripped-back version of any massive Timberlake chorus of your fancy. Elsewhere, we have the typical breathy ballads on display, albeit with a few choice inclusions of more unusual instruments - the combination of riffs and bongos in "Chiromancer"; the exceptional saxophone bridge in "World Turn" – to keep things fresh.
's greatest achievement is the subdued "Ordinary" and the way that Marsh, never the subtlest of lyricists, deals superbly with the subject matter of mundanity. The song continually poises on the brink of changing pace – another saxophone bridge perhaps, or a sudden crash of drums a la "Erase", or maybe even one of those killer shifts into Marsh's trademark falsetto when the chorus comes in? Instead, it continually retreats back from the brink, building up to absolutely nothing, remaining static and dull. Of course, on paper 'dull' seems a strange choice of words for the positive, but that's exactly what it is. The brilliance of "Ordinary" is in the way its subdued nature reflects the subject matter - "We laugh just like yesterday/And I kiss you like the day before/And I hold you just like ordinary/Perhaps when the day is new/We'll find tomorrow is just ordinary too". Could be Ixora
is a harbinger of things to come, and Copeland will go on to take the world by storm and birth a new genre of saxophone-toting electronic indie rock. But, more than likely, they'll be comfortable to stay in the niche they've carved out for themselves and their devoted fanbase, and you can't begrudge them that. Either way, Copeland are back and here to stay.