Review Summary: You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.
There is a comfort in finding unfamiliarity in the familiar. A certain freckle on someone’s nose that you’ve never noticed. A slight stutter that only comes out when someone gets excited. A burst of sweet in your favorite savory Indian food. A detail in the story of how your parents met that you’ve never been told before. These little signs are facts that these things that are important to you, that you love, will always have something new to offer you. That you’ll never tire of returning to them. With You Are My Sunshine
, Copeland master the familiar unknown.
For the style of lush, emo rock that Copeland play, You Are My Sunshine
is an uncharacteristically immediate listen. Aaron Marsh’s ability to write choruses is nearly unparalleled by his contemporaries, and this is seen in full flow throughout You Are My Sunshine
. Each song has the ability to become an earworm, with a wide variety of choruses employed. “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)” relies on a simple melody, “To Be Happy Now” is the song-name repeated over a catchy guitar lick, while “On The Safest Ledge” has an extended chorus that relies on metaphor. This three song spread across the middle of the album is fairly sonically similar, but each offers an entirely unique melody that means they all have their own clear identity.
Another three song spread that is the highlight of the album, and potentially still the highlight of Copeland’s incredibly consistent discography, is the opening trio of tracks “On the Safest Ledge” is one of Marsh’s best vocal performances, with the vocals layering on top of each to create haunting harmonies, often floating in a heavenly falsetto that makes the crashing down to his (still angelic) head voice later in the song even more emotionally impactful. Guitarist Bryan Laurenson also makes his presence known on the song, with a guitar line following the chorus through the song that is at least as memorable as the chorus. “The Grey Man” makes good use of a driving drum beat and changing tempos, all while Marsh delivers heartbreaking lyrics of being unable to escape heartbreak. This all culminates in the bridge, with perhaps his most impressive vocal performance of the album and a panging, memorable line:
Run, run fast enough to lose yourself
Our legs were straight but only move in circles.
This stunning three track opening culminates in “Chin Up”, the magnum opus of Copeland’s career. Strings swell in and out throughout the album, but are put to the best use in this song that slowly grows into a more and more passionate atmosphere. Beginning simply with piano and Marsh’s vocals, the song ends with a full orchestral suite, overlapping vocal lines, a driving drumbeat, the best chorus in the album, and elegant lyrics.
You’d break your neck to keep your chin up.
All of this only addresses the immediacy of the album, the beautiful details that you reveal themselves on early listens. Repeated returns to the album are when the intricacies really start to show themselves. A new layer of instruments being found in “Good Morning Fire Eater”. The subtle ringing of a distorted guitar adding to the anxiety of “Not Allowed”. The vibrato in Marsh’s voice when his humming becomes open mouthed in “Strange and Unprepared”. The fact that what you always assumed was a drumbeat in the background of the guitar solo of “What Do I Know"” may actually be clapping or even a synth. Ten minute closer “Not So Much Found Out"” has too many undiscovered easter eggs to even choose one.
There is a fear in the fact that something can be so familiar, so comforting, so beloved, but still have something new. Something that will catch you off guard. Something that might change your entire understanding of what it is. But sometimes you discover that little detail that adds more. That detail may not seem seem significant to most, but can change your whole perspective. This idea that something, or someone, or somewhere may be known by you, by many people, but this detail is yours and yours alone - And to share it is to share the small beauties in life. You Are My Sunshine
captures the beauty and pain in life on a scale that everyone can understand, but with the details that make privy to you alone.