Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Pleasant Surprise

To this point I've maintained a sideline view of Islands, having perhaps sampled earlier material, but never really investing the proper time to form an opinion one way or another.  It may be a result of too many bands surfacing from a robust Montreal scene all in and around the same time (early to mid '00's).  Regardless, with today's first listen to their new release Vapours, I am certain to revisit previous works.

I'm less than completely through a first listen to Vapours and already absolutely fascinated.  I don't recall previous material being so consistent with such a deliberate approach to removing the sonic peaks and valleys other quirky Montreal bands sometimes fall prey to.  This album (unless it takes a left turn on me here shortly), is a meticulously mature level headed pop disc, sitting somewhere between the more playful material from The Dears and the less frantic work from White Rabbits.

I'm going to suggest this album might not land on any indie critic best of lists this year, since there's no question the band's not conquering any particularly new territory in the Montreal pop arena or guitar based indie pop in general, but these types of releases are of real appeal to me in proper perspective.  I'm talking about a band's third or fourth release, where they yearn less to be heard or necessarily accepted, and more to be appreciated for having settled into their skin nicely, where they can focus on craft and structure a bit more.  This feels like the "band now knows itself" release for Islands (says the armchair critic who opened the post with self proclaimed ignorance).

Hopefully the second listen doesn't suck.  I'm not sure I have a retraction laying around anywhere, especially considering my Montreal bias and general soft spot for stuff like this.