Release Date: Apr 4, 2006
Record label: Equator / Rough Trade
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
On their debut record, Return to the Sea, Montreal's Islands have crafted a rich, exciting, and emotionally deep sounding album that carries on the freewheeling spirit and sound of the Unicorns as well as that of the Elephant 6 bands of the late '90s. You see, Islands singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer Nick Diamonds and drummer Jaime were members of the Unicorns and they have taken the strengths of that band, amplified and adjusted them, added a few more vital ingredients, and come up with a disc that satisfies on a variety of levels and rates among the best indie rock around. The Unicorns were a lo-fi, experimental car crash of a band, equal parts whimsy and exuberance; Islands are a much more adult and measured experience with a much cleaner sound and more classic arrangements (lots of strings, accordions, standup bass, and pianos to go with the cheap synthesizers).
An album called Return to the Sea by a band called Islands is a lot of metaphorical ground to cover right off the bat, and admirably ex-Unicorns J'aime Tambour and Nick Diamonds (not their real names) make no particular effort to instill any consistent meaning in it. Much of the record's charm is its loose, unhurried spirit, the tidal regularity with which clarity drifts in and ebbs away. Most of the songs refer on some level to natural disasters or sea creatures or other hammy elemental imagery, but collectively they bespeak nothing so much as a simple, almost childish fascination with being – being free, being in love, being human.