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Islands - Armís Way

Released on Anti- Records, 5/20/08

The Montreal band Islands' greatest attribute is impatience with its own songs. They force styles into their compositions like itís a grape-eating contest. Gothic marches slice into coastal guitar pings that tap into Grandaddy electronics which seem to electrocute organic strings among other things. Armís Way is indie rock jambalaya.

I like the attention deficit, but somehow the straightest-forward song lands hardest. That song is ďCreeper", a crisp, steady Devo replication that showcases the spectrum of Thorburnís voice without needing a conventional hook. (Both the voice and the caliber of the song remind me of Spoonís Britt Daniel.) Like the rest of Armís Way, itís a slicker experience than 2006ís eccentric -- but not as eccentric as previous band The Unicorns Ė Return To The Sea.

I enjoy some crazy music, but thereís a reason I donít eat jambalaya every day. I like to know what Iím putting into my system. In a way, Armís Way gets boring by way of being conceptually interesting. Take ďLife in Jail", where the Velvet Underground and orchestral Beach Boys dissolve back and forth with Oasis-isms and all-wrong James Bond-y guitar.

Still, the effort sounds great. The production -- rather the mixing and mastering -- transform the Islands bedroom aesthetic. The clarity of each instrument pushes the band into a new realm of sounds-like comparisons. Iím thinking thereís more Cursive and Murder City Devils and Bad Seeds fans in the Islands collective than I would have believed a couple years ago. Iím not putting Islands on that level, but Iím appreciating -- and paying attention to -- the steady approach.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars