Ixora Twin

Written by: TL on 27/11/2015 13:04:13

A little over a year ago, Florida-based indie/soft rockers Copeland returned from a seven-year break with the comeback album "Ixora", picking up right where they left off with 08's "You Are My Sunshine" and delivering one of the very best soft rock records of the year (You can read the review here). In May this year, however, they decided to do something, well, unprecedented, at least as far as we know. "Ixora Twin" was released, featuring exactly the same tracklist as "Ixora", yet with all new arrangements, and with the kicker being that "Twin" was written to 'interlock' with "Ixora", making it theoretically possible to listen to both versions simultaneously with the different arrangements complimenting each other.

If that sounds a little bonkers, that's because it is, for a number of reasons. Firstly, "Ixora" was quite eclectically and elaborately composed in the first place, so it figures that few would have felt any particular need for added instrumentation or vocal harmonies. Secondly, releasing more than one version of a song is almost never a good idea, except for obvious economic reasons. Fans will inevitably compare the versions and question their attachment to each, perhaps figuring out strengths and weaknesses of each, sure, but do you ever really listen to either with full confidence that "this is the best version"? There are exceptions of course: Bands may, for instance, want to re-record old songs if they have grown bigger and have access to much better recording equipment than they used to, but obviously, with only a year in between "Ixora" and "Twin", this is not the case here.

That said, "Ixora" was a great record, and as it turns out, the songs are hardly any worse in their "Twin" versions, meaning that new fans figure to be equally likely to fall in love with the band, regardless of which version they come upon first. At a glance, it is mainly a matter of the instrumentation being switched around, so where before a song featured a keyboard lead followed by some acoustic guitar, the new version maybe reverses the order, and then listening to both has the keys and strings complementing each other throughout, while singer Aaron Marsh then sings delicate two-part 'harmonies' with himself on the doubled product.

With the tempo obviously being the same however, and the melodic framework as well, what you're most likely to notice if you compare the two, is that "Twin" has considerably less ordinary percussion, which makes sense, because most of "Ixora" featured drumming which it does not make much sense to layer. Furthermore, it is, in general, a more smooth listen, where the organic and the electronic instrumentation meshes even more seamlessly than on its sibling, making it feel softer and more patient in comparison.

It does inevitably lead to some confusion, however, because the differences are ultimately so subtle listening to the two versions as wholes. You sort of have to listen attentively to the separate songs in their different versions to really grasp onto what makes them stand apart. And ultimately, if you ask which version you should rather listen to, the reply becomes a somewhat futile: 'It really does not matter'. You could argue that "Ixora" feels a bit more tactile while "Twin" is more ambient, and one may appeal more to your temperament than the other, but the curious fact remains, that songs like "I Can Make You Feel Young Again", "Have I Always Loved You", "Erase" and "World Turn" are equally likely to endear you on either, or potentially, on both at the same time (YouTube has you covered if you don't want to fiddle with two computers etc.)

How good is "Ixora Twin" then? As close to just as good as "Ixora" for there to be no difference worth discussing. Is putting it out a great decision? Good question. If the whole concept feels confusing to you as a listener, then probably not, but then just flip a coin and check out either, you'll probably be happy either way. If, however, you needed an extra reason to check out Copeland in the first place, then this 'gimmick' is as good as any, as it will at the very least give you an unusual experience with appreciating songwriting, if you take the time to both map out each version separately and enjoy them fully when put together.

Download: Erase, Disjointed, Have I Always Loved You
For The Fans Of: Lydia, Bon Iver, Death Cab For Cutie, Charlie Simpson

Release date 12.05.2015
The Vanguard Room

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