Islands

Taste / Should I Remain Here at Sea?

Manque Music

May 12, 2016 Issue # 57 - M83 Bookmark and Share


Will Nick Thorburn ever shake off the shadow of The Unicorns? Despite his adventurous and successful career in the 13 years since Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? was released, the ceaseless clamor for an extension of the band's 2014 mini-reunion continues to exist as an enormous, unrelenting elephant in the room.

Whether Thorburn feels the need to address the issue is another matter. The sustainability of Islands and his array of personal projects since that time (which includes soundtracking podcast phenomenon Serial), has long confirmed him as a songwriter of unique distinction, possessing an ability to dip in and out of genres as quickly as Kanye does the caps lock button.

The simultaneous release of Islands' albums number six and seven only proves how far Thorburn has moved on. Taste and Should I Remain Here at Sea demonstrate the full gamut of his talents; the former leaning towards more synthetic, electronic tilting, with the latter representing those bristlier indie roots. They are both unquestionably excellent.

Throughout Taste, Thorburn dabbles in melancholic themes. Yet, despite the minor key breeze that flows through opener "Charm Offensive" and the nostalgic, synth-driven carousel of "Umbrellas," these are not miserable songs. Instead they ooze hope. The effortlessly catchy "Snowflake," in particular, jaunts its way into the ear canals on the back of a sprinting guitar line and lavish dashes of electronic trickery.

Should I Remain Here at Sea? contains more clang, but is no less drenched in introspection and invention. "Fiction" flicks and kicks its way through three minutes of jangle-friendly bluster; "Innocent Man" is a charging, snarling headrush of rapid-fire percussion and silvery guitar twangs; and "Sun Conore" is a shimmering, tear-building swell that represents Thorburn's most delicate and gorgeous moment to date.

Those Unicorns may finally be dead. (www.islandsareforever.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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