Everything seems too easy for the talented musicians that form Islands. In 2016, Nicholas Thorburn, Evan and Geordie Gordon and Adam Halferty launched not one but two albums simultaneously. Both include great songs that are catchy at first glance (It’s Heaven) but still use this elegant phlegmatic that makes their charm.

Nich Thornburn is the guy who has it all. A great talent to write beautiful songs and deliver them elegantly (Carried Away). A spirit of teamwork that makes both composers and musicians complete each other. This element is so important to keep the creative minds awake and delivering great music.

islands two albums 2016

Islands start the “Should I Remain Here, at Sea?” with lyrics that evoke the good old days, while the title of the album refers to their first album’s title “Return to the Sea”, released in 2006. Check out Back Into It‘s lyrics.

Those songs we used to sing / We haven’t sung them in so long / I’ll sing one with you now / But first tell me how much I get for biting my tongue / I kept my mouth shut but still I got stung, so / All gone / How do you do it? / You put your back into it / For so long

“Should I Remain Here, at Sea?” is more focused on guitars while “Taste” relies more on the electronic 80s pop angle. Both include great songs with magical melodies, and great hooks (Fear) like Thorburn can write. He is back to form, in top shape. The dynamic Innocent Man has this nerdy and fun angle that makes Islands sound like They Might Be Giants, in their heydays.


Electronic beats à la 80s rule on “Taste”. On songs like No Milk, No Sugar and The Weekend, Islands is getting closer to Chromeo’s 80s-influenced stuff, with beatbox and machine-like synthetic bass lines. Again, Thorburn’s signing brings the melody to another level. His strong abilities to sing his soul in an indie pop format still amazes me (Cool Intentions). Rockier songs also figure on these albums. The Joke features heavier guitars, with, again, catchy hooks in the melody.

Islands are as great as Spoon. We know it, but the rest of the world should pay more attention. They just came in and delivered two awesome albums that should be considered as the best of 2016 Canadian rock. Polaris jury members should take notes!

The band Islands was formed in 2005, when The Unicorns (in which Thorburn, Thompson and Alden Penner were) split. Right from the start, they toured with Metric and Why? Before the drummer left in 2006, before they recorded “Arm’s Way”. Thornburn was the only member of the band when in 2009, he hired brothers Evan and Geordie Gordon, and Thompson returned.

The two new albums were released on May 13, 2016 via the band’s own Manqué label, this time with drummer Adam Halferty aboard.

islands shall i remain here at sea

islands taste

Should I Remain Here at Sea?
(Manqué Records, 2016)

-Genre: indie pop
-In the same mindset as Spoon, Metric, Sloan

Buy the album on the band’s BandCamp page
Follow the band via their Facebook page

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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.