The only way to approach an Eric Copeland album is to expect the unexpected. A lot of his work could be seen by some as just noise, some of it could be seen as genius and most of it could be seen, quite frankly, as somewhat bizarre.
‘Black Bubblegum’ doesn’t really fit into any of those categories but what it does provide is just over half an hour of entertaining, intriguing tracks that blend pop, Afrobeat and reggae into what, for Eric Copeland is probably some of his most accessible work to date.
The album opens with hypnotic looped drums on ‘Kids In A Coma’, and gradually builds loop after loop as Copeland’s distorted lyrics swirl over the top. Next, there’s off-beat drums, catchy bass grooves and flanging guitars on ‘Rip It’ which can only really be appreciated through a good pair of headphones. Like on ‘Rip It’, ‘On’ and ‘Radio Weapons’ have little more than a few looped chords as the main structure of the tracks, but it’s the attention to detail of what’s on top that makes each track its own, the flanging instruments, rotating bass, or funky keys delicately completing each track.
Unusually for Copeland, ‘Honorable Mentions’ and ‘Blue Honey’ actually sound like they could be released as singles, being the most melodic tracks on the album. The latter has a sound that wouldn’t be amiss on a Jesus and Mary Chain or Primal Scream album and there’s even room for a guitar solo at the end.
Things do start to get a little tiring by the time the album reaches ‘Cannibal World’, as Copeland’s nasally, barely comprehensible vocals begin to grate a little but he manages to swing it around again on the next two tracks, Don’t Beat Your Baby and Radio Weapons which both have delicious grooves, driven by more catchy basslines and slick guitar loops and solos.
Unusually for Copeland, it’s a very listenable album of songs that even the most static of people won’t be able to resist tapping their feet to. With a running length of thirty-four minutes, ‘Black Bubblegum’ doesn’t overstay its welcome and Copeland has put together a well-produced collection of strange, fantastical pop which, like a piece of bubblegum, needs to be chewed on for a while to really appreciate.
Eric Copeland’s ‘Black Bubblegum’ is available now on DFA Records.
This Eric Copeland article was written by Neil Stopforth, a GIGsoup contributor