Islands: A Sleep & A Forgetting

    After his former band The Unicorns went extinct in 2004, Nicholas Thronburn started indie-rock group Islands, releasing the first album Return to the Sea in 2005. On that album, the band reveled in exactly the kind of breezy melodies and bright lyrics implied by the “islands” of its name. Through albums two and three, Arm’s Way and Vapours, Islands experienced many shifts in band lineups, allowing for an exploration of new sounds and styles such as heavier T. Rex-inspired guitars and drum-machine programming that veered from its ebullient, Calypso-influenced debut.

    On A Sleep & A Forgetting, the exploration continues. Trying out slow, mournful rock structures and traditional doo-wop harmonies, record number four indulges in a genre referred to by Thronburn as “Doom Wop.” 

    “No Crying” is a good example of this contrast, beginning with Jimmy Buffet-style guitars and light percussion that give the track a traditional Islands flavor. However, the seductive crooning of Thronburn’s voice adds a morose flavor, complete with the melancholy aching associated with teenage heartbreak.

    Though dreamy and loaded with sadness, the album often manages to sound surprisingly upbeat (see the bouncy piano work on “Never Go Solo” and New-Wave keytar on “Can’t Feel My Face”). But just as the title suggests, A Sleep & A Forgetting manages to get slower and softer with each track, fading off into a whisper by the album’s close. (7/10)

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