Tuesday, March 25, 2008Keeping out of Arm's Way
I completely forgot to mention how AMAZING Islands were when they played in London a month ago. They were AMAZING. Do you remember Islands? Islands are made up of ex-Unicorns, who were the first of the eccentric genius Montreal-based bands to get some attention about three years ago. The Unicorns combusted while touring their debut album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?. Islands rose like a phoenix from the Unicorns' ashes, with their album Return to the Sea. It was a more coherent album, with heartbreaking stringed moments, quirky lyrics, banjos and epic masterpieces. After getting a great studio tan in 2007, Islands emerged earlier this year to do a short, low-key UK tour to roadtest their new material.
Even without much press, their show at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen sold out quickly and a decidedly 'I read Pitchfork' crowd were out en masse to witness this most glorious of returns. Solemly dressed entirely in black as they took to the board, it was quite clear that the band meant business. They played almost entirely new songs, and the crowd were attentive and, for the most part, pleasently surprised. Their new material is darker and harsher than their debut, with sneering alt-country influences. Some of the songs had an air of Murderballands-era Nick Cave with their brooding, almost cinematic sound. The black outfits and singer Nick T's white painted face completed the package; Islands now conjure up thoughts of some dark, perverse circus.
Their new album, Arm's Way, is due out in May and will probably leave some fans who were fond of Return to the Sea's quirkier, dreamier aspects a little bit disappointed. That is, until they learn to love the new direction. To be fair, there dark undertones in the debut so nobody should be too surprised. Nevertheless, it was old favourites like Swans (Life After Death, which had the crowd swaying and cheering most vocally. Once the world has heard the album, all will be clear. There will be no denying Islands this year - just you wait...
p.s. I'm an idiot and seem to have deleted my pictures before saving them to my laptop - they were really good, too!