Review – “Sunstroke” – Copilots

sunstrokereviewed by Michael Thomas

After a long slumber, Copilots have dusted off their aircraft and retooled for an entirely new journey. And they’ve got a sixth co-pilot making sure their flight takes off okay. That is Jesse Zubot, who produced and played on the album, the band’s second with Drip Audio.

Zubot’s bold, fearless touch brought music from Tanya Tagaq and numerous others to new worlds, and it’s clear he’s done the same thing with this Vancouver five-piece. The band in its previous records hinted at going for longer, more ambitious songs, and here they’ve done just that.

Six-plus-minute songs can be tricky—too much repetition can make one question why the song has to be so long—but Copilots strike just the right balance on their more sprawling numbers. The biggest gamble they take is on “Come to Life,” a song just more than 11 minutes. It’s carefully constructed with several moving parts, but the blend is so seamless you may not even realize the tone has subtly shifted. The band flirts with gloom and a sense of optimism, and “Come to Life” has both. The interplay of bass and guitar at the beginning speaks of the sun, but before you know the mood has shifted ever so slightly, and by the end the song has gone from sunny to gloomy to cathartic to chaotic, the latter part marked by screeching violin and electronics.

“The Falls” is a similarly adept work, where the lyrics beautifully match the breathless melodies. “As I started to climb one more time/I lost my grasp and slipped” is a bold way to start a song, and the lyrics speak to falling into a raging river and going over a waterfall. As the song goes on, more instruments join the fray, drum and bass, then keys and electronics, and the story begins again, only on a totally different path.

“When It’s New” and “Leaving Unknown” are both around the six-minute mark and work more as bookends, a sense of winding down after the heights the previous songs reach.

The middle three songs are where the band has the most fun. “Defences,” sitting smack-dab in the centre of the album, is the best kind of roller coaster imaginable, at times urgent thanks to the unique electronic sounds that resemble a demented alarm clock going off, but also featuring strong group vocals in the choruses that you almost want to sing along to. “Mountain of Time” is merely three minutes of forward-momentum rock and roll, with hearty vocals and of course some jamming. “The Possible” is perhaps the sunniest song of them all, and comes to a close significantly slower, as though it just won a race.

You may not immediately know the destination, but trust Copilots to take you along for a ride.

Top Tracks: “Defences”; “The Falls”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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