Published Aug 13, 2014On his debut album, Basic Instincts, San Diego-based singer-songwriter and producer Richard Hunter-Riviera invites us to get lost in his hazy, synth-laden world. While breaking little new ground, Island Boy does manage to successfully merge tropical-tinged beats, Spanish and English lyrics, Thom Yorke-ish plaintive vocals and '80s-era pop. It's not necessarily an easy feat, but one that Hunter-Riviera somehow pulls off while creating an album that still remains cohesive.
Songs like "Ashes" and "Too Straight" manage to sound like everyone and no one simultaneously, with just enough of Hunter-Rivera inserted to make it his own, but lacking enough personality to really pull you in. Highlights such as "16mm" and "El Dembow Me Salvo" retain a welcome simplicity, and make for some of the more charming material on Basic Instincts. The inclusion of two instrumental interludes, while not entirely necessary on a ten-song/37 minute album, helps to create an overall mood and contribute to the aforementioned cohesion of the album.
The lyrics are the project's weak point — too clunky at times, too obvious at others — but overall there's a lot to like about Basic Instincts. Many of the songs could easily be included on a number of coming-of-age teen angst movie soundtracks, in the best possible way. The material is also rife with potential for live performance, so here's hoping a tour announcement is imminent. The album is its own self-contained world, which is more than can be said of many releases by more established acts, making the future of Island Boy as a project even more exciting. (Rita Records)