DFA stalwart Eric Copeland isn’t exactly known for producing radio friendly pop bangers.
Sometimes it’s challenging to untangle Copeland’s solo material from that of his day job as one third of electro-psych noisemakers Black Dice, because the two entities exist in a shared sonic space of sample-heavy rushes and disjointed, nebulous soundscapes.
Of course, this material is the mainstay of James Murphy’s DFA label and Copeland has found safe shelter under its wing for over a decade. But in Black Bubblegum, Copeland has harnessed a more melodically attuned part of his creative mind, and it seems like he’s accessed some fecund territory.
Copeland’s last solo outing, 2013’s Joke In The Hole, saw him explore a jittery, dissonant side to himself, and if that album was the skittish early morning detox, Black Bubblegum is the 24 hour afterglow of soaring clarity.
“Kids In a Coma” shuffles into view with a volley of undulating percussion that grows into an amorphous skiffle, coming across like the swaggering little brother of Tune-Yards’ “Water Fountain”. The echo-chamber reggae of “Rip It” sees Copeland accessing his inner Arthur Russell as he delivers successive waves of elongated acid dub with hypnotic results.
But Copeland never really lets go of his instinct for experimentation. For all the soulful sun-kissed verve of tracks like “Honorable Mention” and “On” there lurks the hazy crepuscular rhythms of “Cannibal world” and scrappy garage punk of “Don’t Beat Your Baby”.
But where Black Bubblegum could have the potential to take Copeland’s aesthetic into truly bombastic realms, there are points in the album that sound a little too understated. “Fuck It Up” has a confident Stooges-esque strut that bubbles with expectant energy but never quite breaks the surface.
By virtue of its accessibility, Black Bubblegum presents itself as the most singular album Copeland has produced to date and who knows, maybe some pop bangers will be coming our way after all. But if they do, they’re bound to be delivered through Copeland’s ramshackle, schizophrenic prism.