Release Date: May 20, 2008
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
When Jamie Thompson and Jim Guthrie left Islands, many thought the band was finished. After all, Thompson and singer/songwriter Nick Diamonds have been playing music together since the Unicorns stormed the indie circuit in 2003. What happened, though, was that Diamonds was able to craft even more grandiose pop arrangements than those we heard on the band’s debut.
Islands' Arm's Way isn't a complete disaster, but it flirts with it before ending up as merely a seriously flawed and unenjoyable album. Their debut was a ramshackle mess of kitchen-sink experimentation that worked a treat thanks to the band's endearingly weird arrangements and undeniably catchy songs. Much like an album by front man Nick Thorburn's previous band, the Unicorns, there was humor and devil may care attitude coursing through the grooves.
Nick Thorburn's Islands are nothing like their Montreal predecessors. The sextet's sophomore LP merges Britpop and Broadway, Thorburn the new Jarvis Cocker. The Pulp frontman embodies entertainment, presenting pop anthems as masterpieces, and Thorburn pours just such confidence into Arm's Way. "The Arm" flexes deliciously epic as the opener, guitar balancing the dainty piano on a tightrope, and "Pieces of You" blasts sax nostalgia with its theatrical crescendos.