Islands – Vapours

January 01, 1970

(Anti-)

 

www.anti.com

 

Nick Diamonds is really, really good at writing hook-laden,
catchy indie-pop songs. So maybe the problem he’s currently facing is just
that; it comes so naturally to him, he’s not trying quite as hard anymore. In
fact, on Islands’ new album, it almost feels
like he’s phoning it in.

 

It’s hard to argue with most of Vapours’ notable characteristics. Diamonds continues to silkily
croon out similes and metaphors about life and love over a conventionally
structured but engaging bed of rock and synth-pop backgrounds. Where the band’s
last album, Arm’s Way, veered towards
classic, almost proggy rock arrangements, this one inverts the formula. Many of
the songs bounce and bubble along over programmed drumbeats and shimmering
synth lines. The title track is a pleasant exception, a short and sweet Van
Morrison-style mid-tempo rocker buoyed by the addition of a brass section. But
much of the tracklist is closer to the tension-filled “Devout,” a Halloween
disco with empty spaces and minor chord progressions, or the balmily bumping
“No You Don’t.” Tunes like this work just fine, but don’t offer the breath of
electro-excitement that a track like the infectious “Creeper” offered on the
last record.

 

Finally, as agreeable as the whole thing is, Vapours is just never very exciting. The
album may be Islands’ weakest effort to date,
sharing more with Diamonds’ Human
Highway project than anything even remotely
Unicorns. Vapours is awkward adult
contemporary, emo easy listening, uninspired indie rock… But still, the songs
sound good, the instruments are played well, the tunes stick in your head. This
Diamonds dichotomy may not make your year-end list, but you won’t ask for these
40 minutes back either.

 

Standout Tracks: “Vapours,”
“No You Don’t” JONAH FLICKER

 

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