After playing their “final” show in their Florida hometown six years ago, Copeland has returned with Ixora, their fifth studio album. Ixora was recorded at lead singer Aaron Marsh’s studio and self-released with distribution help from their past label, Tooth & Nail. Copeland, the indie-rock veterans, currently have no further touring plans or any solid idea of their future as a band, but deliver a passionate album that perfectly compliments their 2008 release, You Are My Sunshine.
Ixora opens up with an acoustic guitar and heavenly melodies on “Have I Always Loved You?” The song is a self-reflection on one’s place in a relationship. It also works as Marsh’s reflection on his music and Copeland. It’s about returning to the thing you love, simply because of love, and making your way through all the doubt and roadblocks that life throws your way. The next song, “Disjointed,” is a track that builds from seemingly disparate instruments. It starts with a dark, steady synth, a simple kickdrum, a delicate xylophone, and some harmonious piano chords. “Disjointed” is one of Copeland’s most intricate and stimulating songs, as it proves their continuous growth and maturity.
“Erase” highlights the delicate nature of Copeland. Marsh sounds more confident and open than ever before with “You’re still the breeze upon my skin / close my eyes, breathe you in / I’m still the shadow that’s in your night / taking over until I fade into your light.” Taking some possible inspiration from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Marsh sings about how he keeps trying but can’t erase or let go of his feelings for someone. He wants to forget, but doesn’t want to be forgotten. It’s an internal struggle that Marsh is so intrinsically good at depicting.
Surprisingly, Ixora shows Copeland exploring new terrain. “Lavender” is electronically heavy and features light distortion. “Like a Lie” is Copeland embracing the slower complexities and smoothness of R&B. “Chiromancer” is one of the most layered and multifaceted tracks Copeland has ever tackled, featuring some tribal drumming, an electronically dense landscape, and compact bass work. The devastatingly gorgeous “Ordinary” and “World Turn” are quintessential Copeland tracks that could’ve been easily included in 2006’s Eat, Sleep, Repeat. “Ordinary” carries with it one of their most heart-wrenching choruses: “Since you came along my days are ordinary / 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.”
Closing the album, “In Her Arms You Will Never Starve” shows Copeland reusing the lyrical theme of oceans and waves pulling you under their current. It’s an idea of relinquishing control and letting things just be. It’s a very personal track that summarizes the entire album and where Copeland is at in their musical journey. They don’t know what the future holds for them, nor did they even think they’d be making another album post-2008. Aaron Marsh and Copeland are making music the way they were always supposed to be, without deadlines, without distractions, and without any worry about where it will lead them. Ixora is a tender, wonderfully crafted, and genuine album born from the minds of indie-rock entrepreneurs.