Nick Thorburn makes a welcome return with ‘Islomania’ – the first album released under his Islands moniker in five years. During his break from the music industry, Nick produced a pilot television script, created a graphic novel with Fantagraphic and scored a few films and radio shows. Released via Royal Mountain Records (Mac DeMarco, Alvvays), the new album was recorded without any pressore or deadline and mixed by John Congleton and mastered by Joe LaPorta. Regarding the themes of the album, Nick says: ‘I wanted this record to be a celebration of finding joy and pleasure in life. I think it’s important to remember that, despite the darkness and conflict and pain, there’s still goodness in the world.’
The title track kicks off the album with a swaying groove that brings to mind Future Islands as Nick offers musings on how ‘It comes fast and it comes slow, it comes high and it comes low’. This is swiftly followed by the samba-infused bop of ‘(We Like to) Do It With The Lights On’. ‘Carpenter’ falls somewhere between ’80s power pop and new wave – with perhaps a touch of The Strokes – as Nick poignantly recalls how ‘I never would have known what you’d be to me’. ‘Closed Captioning’ is more direct from its very first note with its funky moments and assertive declaration of ‘Here we go again’.
‘Set the Firelight’ continues in this celebratory tone as Nick praises the small things that make a difference in synthesised vocals: ‘I’ve got someone to let me in’. ‘A Passionate Age’ is set against a synth-heavy backdrop as Nick pleads for understanding and examines the endless chatter that blights the modern world: ‘All we do is speak’. There’s a cathartic feeling running through most of the songs and ‘Natural Law Party’ is no exception – with its upbeat sound at odds with some of the more self-depreciating lyrics. The album draws to a close with ‘Never Let You Down’ and the more introspective ‘Marble’ and ‘Gore’ – the former of which wouldn’t sound out of place on St. Vincent’s ‘Masseduction’ and the latter offering tender advice: ‘Swim, that’s what they tell you’.
‘Islomania’ is a place you’re going to want to spend quite some time on…