Islands
Arm's Way


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ryan Flatley EMERITUS
May 19th, 2008 | 19 replies | 50,413 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Arm's Way is an adventurous, yet creative journey, from start to finish.

Unfamiliar with any previous work of the indie-rock band, Islands, I can't really put my finger on the reason I decided to embark upon their newest album, Arm's Way. Perhaps the initial recommendations of sounding like Broken Social Scene, The Arcade Fire, and Malajube provided a reason to listen. After all, the thought of a band mingling Broken Social Scene's indie rock, boarding post-rock sentiments, style with the elaborate and meticulous Arcade Fire is simply a blessing in disguise. But it didn’t take many listens to figure Islands were in a league of the own; a league that is dark, mysterious, adventurous, brilliant, and beyond all, epic.

So calmly and serenely the sixty-eight minute Arm's Way begins; fluttering vocals, violins, and guitars prance in different directions until they ultimately bind together. The momentum continues to crescendo and build until a barbaric screech fully releases "The Arm" into a simple, yet defining riff. From that point, it was hard to turn back. It is the confident indie-rock nature of "The Arm" that makes a bold statement for the entire album. Lyrically, Nick Thorburn does a pretty good job with an overall smart aleck tone, like in "The Arm," when he sings, 'In a lifeless carcass/ in a badass car crash/ hopefully you wake up soon, hopefully you do/ oooohhh I want you to/ that's why the arm came for you,' hinting 'the arm' is something in a higher place. Beyond "The Arm," Islands go with a more traditional indie-rock approach with catchy tracks like "Pieces of You" and "Creeper," but also containing modestly upbeat indie-pop tracks like, "J'aime Vous Voir Quitter." The voraciously paced "Abominable Snow" begins with a before-and-after quip singing, 'rack of lamb of God,' and from there, sounds vary with thrashing violins and changes into a slow-danced affair led by tremolo guitars and keyboards. But this is only the beginning of the almost bipolar songwriting.

Within Arm's Way there are so many ambitious ideas and riffs floating around that eventually find, and sometimes miss, their nook or cranny. "Life In Jail" is generally a ballad-esque track that simmers in a rather slow pace; that is until two guitars come along and decide to take "Life In Jail" in a completely different direction with a more upbeat/swing style. With this comes a slight downfall of Arm's Way showing how creative ideas do not exactly always mesh cleanly within a song. Where it does work is with the song is "In The Rushes," which releases a sort of hidden progressive rock style that grows with frantic violins (plucking included) and smooth bass riffs that fill the overall intensity and emotion released by Islands. It is the kind of emotion that shows how passionate they were writing Arm's Way.

The last two tracks provide a summation of the record and Islands latest style. "I Feel Evil Creeping In" sets up the album's lengthy closer with a bass clarinet providing a dark underlying to a song that is catchier than it leads on. Throughout Arm's Way, it has been a constant slew of epics songs with catchy indie-pop songs in between and there really couldn't be a more fitting ending than, "Vertigo (If It's a Crime)." The eleven-minute gem epitomizes the elements of the entire album among cozy and soothing riffs, beautiful vocal hooks, orchestra-like production of instruments, progressive indie-rock riffs, and an overall creative and daring song. It is truly captivating to hear from start to finish such a complete song that envelope a beautiful build upon not only the song, but the entire album.

Without much prior knowledge of Islands, it was hard to judge if they have progressed from their last album Return To The Sea. Regardless, it is apparent they have built a solid foundation for their next albums. Arm's Way intentions are fantastic, but the moves do not always pull through. Besides an overall length issue, sometimes Islands have too many ideas that create awkward phrasings. It is hard to fault a band that made something so brilliantly sound in the end. Islands produced an adventurous and daring record with Arm's Way, an adventure many bands are afraid to attempt. And I can't blame them for that.



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user ratings (64)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 20th 2008



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listen to most of the songs here: http://www.myspace.com/islandsThis Message Edited On 05.20.08

brandtweathers
May 20th 2008



2009 Comments


awesome. reading the review now
(note: solid, solid review. I was very excited for this and suggest you listening to
return to the sea if you haven't indulged.


again, great perspective and summation.)This Message Edited On 05.19.08

Rion
May 20th 2008



9 Comments


I found Return to the Sea much more interesting, this album bored me to sleep, maybe i'll try listenin to it in the morning. Don't let the arcade fire references reel you in, this is nothing like arcade fire. Didn't they have a rapper in this group before?

brandtweathers
May 20th 2008



2009 Comments


arcade fire is given too much credit imo.
im uncertain bout the rapper but am certain i'll still spin this album asap



NortherlyNanook
May 20th 2008



1285 Comments


Huh. I wasn't expecting this to be all that great (not that Return to the Sea was bad at all), but I guess I'll have to check it out. Nice work.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 20th 2008



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Arcade Fire is never given too much credit >

I thought Return to the Sea was cute and pretty cool, but I'd be interested to see how this compares. It's interesting that this came out today, I've been listening to bands like Okkervil River, Sunset Rubdown all week and Islands fit smack bang into that palate of music.

Really good work on the review.

Digging: Pharoahe Monch - PTSD

brandtweathers
May 20th 2008



2009 Comments


Correction: re-listened to 'return to the sea' and yes, there is rapper in parts. my bad.
(streetlightrock) I doubt this will be close to sunset rubdown. They're a little more out there, content-wise.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 20th 2008



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no parappa the rapper in this album

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 20th 2008



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh no, I don't have any expectations tbh, I just thought this just fit the overall vibe of my week =)

brandtweathers
May 20th 2008



2009 Comments


vn. wish my life had themes and continuity

Intransit
May 20th 2008



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is sosososo good.

brandtweathers
May 20th 2008



2009 Comments


^it has quite a bit to live up to. 'rtts' was impressive

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2008



15693 Comments


Early impression is a mix of Kiss Kiss and Arcade Fire. I like it.

And I thought that before I saw your recommendations, oh btw.This Message Edited On 05.20.08

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins® [AMDISCS]

plane
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2008



6073 Comments


Not that good.

Broken Arrow
May 20th 2008



220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really dig this album. Some really great tracks here in my opinion.

Im going to see them at the end of the month too.

Intransit
June 11th 2008



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lewis is wrong album is sick.

Mendigo
December 11th 2008



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

just raised the rating half a step, this is really wonderful indiepop. in the rushes is awesome.

Mendigo
December 11th 2008



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Vertigo might even be better. could become a 4 star rating too.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
December 12th 2008



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this is pretty cool still, it feel of the map terribly though



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