ISLANDS play the Music Gallery February 28. See listing. Rating: NNN
The fourth album from Islands sees main man Nick Thorburn in a transitional phase. In the aftermath of a breakup, his songwriting's become more introspective, while he's also stripped back all the futuristic glam production touches of past recordings in favour of a bare-bones live-off-the-floor early-60s R&B feel. It's immediately enjoyable, but suffers on repeat listens due to a lack of variety.
On the bright side, this is far more exciting than his disappointing "doom-wop" indie supergroup Mister Heavenly, while exploring some of the same musical ideas. Frustratingly, A Sleep & A Forgetting feels like a collection of demos for what could be a great album. We like minimalism, and we're down with lo-fi, but these compositions demand more colour and life. Some backup vocals would have gone a long way. While it's not a triumph, it does make us optimistic about his next recording. It might be an imperfect stepping stone, but the staircase he's climbing here shows great promise.
Top track: Cold Again