Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Islands Mp3: "Vapours"

I really loved Islands for one magical year in 2006. The group was riding high on its magnificent debut album, Return to the Sea, just as I was becoming enamored with lo-fi bedroom indie pop. So, duh, perfect match. In fact, here's what my 18-year-old self had to say about the album when it hit number seven on my year-end list, exclusively published on my Xanga (remember that?) for 10 people to read:

It’s absolutely ridiculous. Guitars, pianos, strings, accordions, flutes, triangles, whistles, saxophones, steel drums, bongos, rap breakdowns. Indie at its best. Starting with the Arcade Fire-esque “Swans (Life After Death)”, which rolls on for nine and a half minutes, the band delves into every different style imaginable. “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” and “Jogging Gorgeous Summer” explore the Calypso world. “Tsuxiit” is a psychedelic instrumental that turns into a video game theme. This album sounds huge even when it’s quiet, and that’s all the more impressive when you consider it was recorded in a bedroom. A gorgeous, fun, outstanding album that can be played anywhere, anytime.

Basically, I still agree with what I wrote, but reading that description is just UGH CENTRAL. Luckily, I went to college and learned how to write. Point is, Return to the Sea was great, but Islands' 2007 follow-up, Arm's Way was boring. I don't really remember much about it, except something Broadway and something French. (BTW, those writing skills I honed in college are, at this point, debatable.) I'm still iffy on most of the group's post-Return output, but the title track from the new record, Vapours, has significantly piqued my interest.

"Vapours" trots along on a killer Motown backbeat with brass accompaniment, while leader Nick Diamonds croons typically vague lyrics to anyone who's listening. I've always admired the singer's ability to craft choruses out of afterthoughts, and it's no different here: "It's a bassline in your mind / It's a sexy way to cry / You know I've had my share of doubt / Until I saw the vapours in your eyes." Hell if we know what it means, but damnit if we aren't signing along to it by the time it finishes. Fist bump to Stereogum for the mp3.

Vapours hits stores 9/22 via Anti-.