I don't know if anyone on this sight reads any indie websites for reviews or new bands, but I actually first heard of this band because of Pitchfork media. I won't drone on about my dislike of the whole organization and their fellating of (to my estimating) average/awful indie bands, but one day when one of my friends said to me "I know theyre evil, but you should really check out this band called Islands" I took a chance. To start off, this album already gets an extra point from me for creating an opening track ("Swans") despite its 9 minutes and 34 second running time, that actually doesn't drag on. Far from it, its actually one of the best tracks on the album and in a way its the most suitable opening track. The instrumentation, for one is very accomplished, the bass, piano, guitar and the vocals create an effective momentum of rythym and melody, its evident from the first and many other tracks that this band have an almost classical approach and knowledge of music.
Whats more their style is damn near impossible to define, its all over the place. There's quirky indie pop, Calypso and Tropical island influences in there and some Jazz and Classical moments, along with some other genres I probably left out. Lead singer Nicholas Thorburns voice is also in my opinion pretty easy to like, sounding vaguely like a slightly higher pitched Benjamin Gibbard of death cab for cutie, he manages to pull off some bizarre lyrics. lyrics like "if the clothes make the man, then the moths make the holes
And it shows, yes it shows, by the shape the hole grows" are sung irreverantly to their own innocent wierdness. There are some more poetic moments lyrically, ie:"Yet all I see is sea
And azure sky
A little wave and ebb tide"
By and large its very upbeat music (it actually works as poolside soundtrack), the sunny pop of "Joggin gorgeous summer" offers what the title suggests, complete with flute and xylophone, track 4 "Rough gem" is also probably one of the catchiest and addictive pop songs ive heard for a long time. Islands don't seem afraid to have a sense of humour about themselves too, some of the ridiculous lyrics, the fast paced rapping on one track("Where theres a will theres a will theres a whalebone", actually one of the few weak album tracks) and a sense of fun in their experimentation. Whats more impressive is that it works very well, because they arent content with amauter instrumentation or half baked tunes that lesser indie bands may be happy to shove out. Basically theyve obviously laboured over this debut, with a firm grasp on structure and melody (see "Untitled" for an example). Yes maybe there is a little bit of a pretentious streak to the band (ie the 5 minutes silence before a 4 minutes song on"Untitled"), however you could argue they have a lot more ambition than some of their peers! Overall one of the most creative new bands ive heard in a long time.
Pros:-great range of styles
-good Humoured pop songs
-track lenght ranges from 2 and a half minutes to 9 minutes
Cons:-Theyre Canadian (just joking!)
-Take some getting used to