CORVALLIS — Reeling from the deadline blues, I rescued my copy of the Brian Copeland Band’s “Circles” (2010) from the depths of eternal bliss and fired it up stat and tout de suite. ’Twas just the shot I craved. I leapt with abandon into my polysyllabic soups and kissed every verb in sight.
You, too, can know such gratification this Saturday, when Copeland lands at the Corvallis Fall Festival to drown his old hometown in his hook-happy brilliance, beginning at 12:24 p.m.
While most of us were raised on radio, Brian Copeland studied it, took copious notes to determine what smacked the soul just so and lingered in the cortex long enough to resurface as involuntary playback during household chores. As a result, he matured into a master of pop, demonstrating a knack for lines that stick and melodies that soothe the sponge.
“Circles” wastes no time deluging your pleasure centers with yum. “On the Inside” is a dangerous jangler, dagger-sharp, plowing through the dictionary for a hostile takeover of “infectious.” Throughout the disc, Copeland sings in a slightly ragged voice, riding that line between swoony ache and guzzling a summer sky. His songs dance with dreamy winks of Beatles-esque shiver; Crowded House’s Neil Finn (who remains at large); and a majestic dose of Matthew Sweet — all of these things, of course, are Very, Very Good.
The notion of travel is recurring motif. “Number 53” drags its captives over a head-boppin’ carefree lope through various means of transportation, from a red-eye flight to a train station, but, hey, no worries. “Don’t let the details get us down,” Copeland sings. As he later elucidates on “Passenger,” patiently sitting curbside, the promise of escape due any moment: “It can be plane, train or car / just take me away.” Unfortunately, he gets left behind in “Home,” as a sweetheart takes flight for parts unknown. Matt Burnett’s piano strikes a somber note as Copeland audibly tugs at the strings of an acoustic guitar, setting the perfect atmosphere for Amelia Bierly’s heart-heavy cello.
There’s another girl in “April Hides,” a potential companion whose affection currently exists only in fantasy. Burnett’s metropolitan gurgle evokes what could be as Copeland supposes, “I think I might love her / but I don’t even know her name.” (Been there!) Together they walk hand-in-hand through “It’s a Shame,” preceded by an absolutely regal ivory intro that settles into a proper pop gait, complete with low, merry-way whistle.
Which I find myself doing as I saunter ’long this final paragraph, thoroughly chuffed and satisfied. Fall has arrived, but thanks to “Circles,” I’m basking still in the warmth of the sun. Now, c’m’ere, you adjectives, and gimme some sugar.