Oh, To Be By The Sea…
Every so-often an album comes along that is immersed deeply into previous styles and ideas that something new has been delivered. The debut from Montrealâ€šÃ„Ã´s Islands is one such an album. Doubling as a theme album of beach-related ideas, Return to the Sea establishes Islands, almost immediately, as being among the creative elite coming from Canada.With a myriad of sunny pop melodies, ebb-and-flow tempos, and lyrical mentions of the beach and sea, one might feel comfortable listening to this album with a Hawaiian shirt and a colorful drink with an umbrella resting on its brim. The references are scattered throughout eleven songs melancholy enough to contemplate, melodic enough to sing along, and are among witty lyrics like â€šÃ„ÃºModern man is a mix of bestial sex.â€šÃ„Ã¹ This keeps them from being mere fluff.
Though full of highlights, a creative duality of Islands is established in â€šÃ„ÃºRough Gemâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºVolcanoes.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The former is a pop gem reminiscent of the Carsâ€šÃ„Ã´ â€šÃ„ÃºTonight She Comes.â€šÃ„Ã¹ It would also be at home in XTCâ€šÃ„Ã´s catalog with its intricate orchestration and clever lyrics like â€šÃ„ÃºScoop out my brain / Shape it into an ear and tell me your pain.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The latter demonstrates the stylistic capabilities of this band. Evolving from an end-of-the-world forecast to rockabilly, the song morphs into orchestral pop and back, and finally closing on a note that Dinosaur Jr. would be proud to call their own.
With Return to the Sea, Islands arrives as one of Canadaâ€šÃ„Ã´s most promising new acts. In a mixture of pop culture and affection for the sea, this band has concocted a stunning, stylistically deep debut full of warmth, wit, and creativity.