Islands A Sleep & a Forgetting

IslandsA Sleep & a Forgetting
No matter how much we want them to be, Islands are not the Unicorns. Since Nick Thorburn and Jamie Thompson struck out on their own, the group have been viewed as an extension of the famed Montreal trio, rather than a separate entity. Thorburn, in particular, spent the band's first three records simultaneously embracing and running from that expectation, but fourth time out finally finds his voice. A break-up record written on a keyboard, A Sleep & a Forgetting features some of Thorburn's most personal songwriting and it's difficult as a listener to decide where the line between band and reality lies ― is "Never Go Solo" about his lost love or his music? Islands have always had an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to their arrangements, but here the group hold back, peppering songs with splashes of horns, handclaps and what have you only when necessary, allowing individual tracks to stand on their own instead of smearing the album with a wall of noise. Their brand of quirky indie pop runs throughout, but the slower numbers are as effective as the upbeat tunes. There's a streak of R&B and even soul buried in these songs ― "This is Not a Song" could easily find new life as a torch song to a leaving lover. The press release explains that Thorburn started writing A Sleep last Valentine's Day and is releasing it this Valentine's Day to bookend the process. Gimmicky? Yes, but given the subject matter, not altogether inappropriate. (Anti)