Copeland - You Are My Sunshine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


You Are My Sunshine (2008)

Tooth & Nail

Copeland's sophomore full-length, 2005's In Motion proved that sappy songwriting could still be absolutely gripping. It was dynamic and emotionally devastating, with the band sounding worlds more sincere than their piano-pop counterparts and more determined than its second and third-rate followers. 2006's quick followup, Eat, Sleep, Repeat wasn't quite as memorable, but the band seemed resolute to avoid pigeonholing, lettings hints of everything from atmospheric post-rock to mid-century jazz infect the songs to pleasing success.

Depending on how you look at it, the band's new home at Tooth & Nail is debuted with a record that either finds the band implementing its experimentation more subtly or regressing on it altogether. You Are My Sunshine, unfortunately, has neither the unbelievable earnestness and dynamism of In Motion nor the moody, exploratory dreaminess of Repeat. Granted, there are the digitized vocal harmonies of "The Grey Man" or the delicate Sigur Rós-ish touches and fuzzy synth bridge of "Good Morning Fire Eater" (the bridge vocals of which oddly remind me of the Helio Sequence's "The Captive Mind"), but moments like these seem far and few between -- and when they drop by, they only add so much to the song.

Nonetheless, Sunshine is still a listenable and occasionally enjoyable record. Though something like "Chin Up" makes it seem like the band is more defanged than usual, it's a 3:20 bit of percolating pop with plenty of melody to make a dent. "To Be Happy Now" has a chorus that's pleasant, but feels like it would benefit from a lot more ‘umph' on frontman Aaron Marsh's part, and perhaps in the instrumentation department as well. "Not Allowed" has a stuttering programmed backbeat that paints a picture of a more dreamy Postal Service.

You Are My Sunshine is a disappointment and potentially Copeland's "worst" album considering the direction they seemed to be headed in. It's weird to say that a band built on bummers has actually bummed me out, but at least it's not entirely forgettable. Copeland clearly have plenty of magical melodies and captive choruses left in them; let's just hope their placement on the next album is overseen with less sporadicity.

The Grey Man
Good Morning Fire Eater
On the Safest Ledge