Arm's Way

Arm's Way

By the end of opening track ("The Arm") with its Spaghetti western-flavored guitars and symphonic strings executing the most perfect pas de deux in recent indie pop history, a certain anticipation settles in; it’s a real stunner. Montreal's Islands had a banner year in 2006 when they debuted with Return to the Sea, an inspiring mix of pop flavorings. Here, main Islander Nick Thorburn takes things up a notch, vying for a top spot in the (so far) sparsely populated field of indie prog-rock; Arms’ Way gives us songs that are easy to listen to but take a while to absorb, with orchestrated, lush arrangements offset by a perfect balance of rock (not pop) guitars, thundering drums, and unexpected time shifts and song structures. Thorburn’s vocals are in fine form, whether they’re wrapping around emotive high notes like an embrace, or discharging caustic stingers (the ferocious “J’aime Vous Voire Quitter” has the line: “You said you had my back/but I was attacked by a pack of dogs frothing at the mouth”).  There are many additional brilliant moments here: “Creeper,” “Kids Don’t Know,” “I Feel Evil” and the grand “To A Bond” are all dazzling, evocative, full-bodied works.  Sip and enjoy.

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