CD Review: Islands

Vapours (ANTI-)

If it wasn't already apparent from his mug gracing the cover of Islands' third album, Vapours, all the pre-album press certainly confirms it: This album is a Nick Thorburn production. The de facto leader of the Montreal sextet seemed content to hide behind the Vapours moniker and the rest of his bandmates for Islands' first two outings — 2006's immaculate Return to the Sea and 2008's too-proggy-for-its-own-good Arm's Way. But this time out, he's almost become synonymous with the band.

Opener "Switched On" sounds like the Beach Boys playing Afro-pop. Tracks like "Devout," "Shining" and "No You Don't" find Thorburn steering the band in an electro direction. The title track covers more musical ground in less than three minutes than most bands can navigate in twice the time, while the chorus of "Disarming the Car Bomb" is guaranteed to be shouted at every Islands gig they play.Thorburn's falsetto vocals are featured throughout, most prominently on "The Drums" and the blissy, spacious album closer, "Everything Is Under Control." Part of the appeal of Return to the Sea was that the band let the tunes fully breathe. Conversely, Arm's Way sucked all of the air out of the room. Vapours comes close to finding a perfect medium between the two. — Jeremy Willets

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