Singer Aaron Marsh sounds awfully lovelorn on Copeland’s new album as he wails: “Whoa ... your love is in motion, / And it’s spinning me around, / Whoa ... my heart is in motion, / For the movement that’s in you.” The album (whose title is assumably procured from the aforementioned lyrics), is brimming with songs about love, longing and loneliness, causing one to presuppose that Copeland—a band with an unfortunate emo connotation surrounding them—is actually living up to that reputation. Luckily for both the band and the listener, Copeland doesn’t sound emo—Marsh’s voice is devoid of generic whininess and the music resounds with indie rock sensibilities far more mature than those harvested on the Warped Tour.
A band’s sophomore effort is generally supposed to reveal evidence of growth on the part of the band, both lyrically and musically, and, generally, In Motion does this—at least musically. Lyrics like “If you fall in love, / Fall in love and hold nothing back” don’t exactly echo with poetic grace, and on most of the songs the simple sentiments Marsh moans about are revealed through equally simple choruses. But Marsh’s angst-ridden voice exhibits such feeling that the simplicity of his words goes almost unnoticed.
The opening track, “No One Really Wins”, however, slams the band onto the pinnacle of sophomore perfection. Combining well-crafted lyrics (like “In the fight between my heart and mind, / No one really wins this time”) with driving melodies that wax and wan between heavy and soft, “No One Really Wins” proves that the Copeland foursome has a burgeoning talent for songwriting.
Although Copeland blow their metaphorical wad on the album’s first song, a few of the album’s other tracks come in at a second close to such a grand opening climax. “Pin Your Wings” resonates with a kind of catchiness usually reserved for pop bands and “Sleep”, in all its lyrical starkness, aptly captures the universal sense of isolation that can creep up on anyone lying awake, alone, in the night.
For the most part, Copeland seems to have enjoyed considerable growth as a band since the release of their debut, 2003’s Beneath Medicine Tree. Last year’s EP, Know Nothing Stays the Same, was met with critical esteem and had fans eagerly awaiting the release of In Motion. The album is not perfect, and like any true sophomore effort it showcases a band who require a certain amount of development, particularly when it comes to their lyrics. As second albums go, however, this is a solid one, revealing that the fans’ anticipation was certainly warranted.
The true power of In Motion—and the primary reason it is so solid—lies in Copeland’s ability to drag the listener along the gauntlet of their emotions with them. When Marsh bemoans his “tired heart” on “You Have My Attention”, the listener has no alternative but to grieve for their own tired heart along with him. And when he begs his lover to “Change if you want, but don’t you go and change for me” on the opener, one can barely restrain oneself from crying out in assurance that they won’t.
The term “emo” has essentially become devoid of meaning nowadays, containing only remnants of what it originally meant and offering more of an insult than a benign genre classification. But if emo, disregarding its derisive overtones, means that a band both exhibits and evokes a rollercoaster of emotion in their music, then truly, Copeland is an emo band. And that, at least in this case, is meant as the highest of compliments.