Release Date: Nov 3, 2009
Record label: Labrador Sweden
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
With a name like The Mary Onettes, you would be forgiven for filing this Swedish quartet's second LP somewhere between The Chiffons and The Supremes, assuming it to be a modern day equivalent to the soul-singing girl groups that shoo-wopped their way through the Sixties. Typically though, expectations are usually wrong and true to form, this was one of them. The Mary Onettes couldn’t be any further from sequins and matching skirt-and-jacket sets.
When we last left the Mary Onettes, the Swedish quartet was diligently channeling the sounds of the 1980s without a lick of the irony that often imbues such revivalism. Their retro moves seemed less about building upon the decade's musical legacy as encapsulating its finer points for consumption by a new generation. Which, hey, was a perfectly cool way to go about things.
The Mary Onettes' second album is a marked improvement over their debut. That self-titled record had an icy synth pop sound that did little to help the songs come to life; the few that did hit were so in thrall to the band's obvious heroes, Echo & the Bunnymen, that it was almost embarrassing. Islands has a much warmer sound, with the jagged beats and cold keyboards replaced by warm strings and softer, more epic-sounding percussion.
Islands, the latest release from Swedish synth-rockers The Mary Onettes evokes the dreamy, wondrous land which they call home. Sweden might be known as the land of Volvo and crafty hockey players, but there’s something more and Islands confirms that. There’s a magical mystery that’s impossible to ignore. Grandiose yet never overbearing, The Mary Onettes have achieved a sonic mastery that grows with every spin of Islands.