Sunday, June 15, 2008

Arm's Way Sees Islands Polish Their Sound

There once was a band called The Unicorns. They released an album, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?, and then just like their band name's legacy, dissappeared. Then came Islands, from two of the members fo the Unicorns and they released an album called Return to the Sea. This album was one of those kooky, genre bending affairs that although was a little off the wall from time to time, it still worked and had a party/exciting vibe to it. This year, Islands has followed up 2006's Return to the Sea with a much more stable and standard sound in Arm's Way.

Arm's Way sees Islands dropping the heavey synths and the kooky vibes for the most part for a more standard baroque guitar pop sound. Less synths, less islandy break-downs and more guitars and heartfelt lyricism. After repeat listening's, I can't decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. My problem with Arm's Way isn't the songwriting, but the lack of the off-the-wall goodness that Return to Sea was so great for. Minus a few mid-song turns like during "J'aime vous voire quitter" when it goes from a fast jaunty guitar pop song into a full on bossa nova jam section a la Zep's "Fool in the Rain," the album is too tame compared to what made Islands intriguing. That being said, the songs are still high quality writing overall with sweeping baroque sounds and guitar riffs left and right.

The music of Islands on Arm's Way blends prog of the 70's song structures, baroque pop a la fellow Canadians Arcade Fire and indie guitar posturing of every other run-of-the-mill band crawling out of the woodwork. This is prevalent on the first single "The Arm" which has definitive structure changes, strings and everything you'd expect. It's really all in comes down to Nick Diamond's vocals and writing to shine through on this album. The music isn't as sparkling and fresh but the lyricism is something to enjoy. A cleaner more focused Islands isn't exactly a great thing, but it's definitely a good listen.

1 comment:

Valentine. said...

Mr. Brian Moeller, of nomadic fame, introduced me to the Unicorns through a mix (I thought you'd appreciate that). I was unaware of their creation of Islands, so thank you for the enlightenment.

... speaking of Islands... I'm currently listening to 'Islands on the Coast' by Band of Horses. interesting.