Islands' sound sort of fits the description of a serial killer. It's charming and disarming. It seems like a nice guy. But you do get an eerie chill from it, the sense that there's something dark in its soul. That said, Islands won't kill you, though the band slays when it comes to making killer electronic pop music. And its style isn't methodical, either, just well executed in design.
Vapours kicks off with the up-beat, orchestral melodies and tribal rhythms of "Switched On." But the album gets far more interesting once it hits "Devout" and "Disarming the Car Bomb" and, especially, "Shining." In those songs, shadowy melodies intertwine with stories of dangerous explosions, back-alley violence and heists, all of which could just as easily be interpreted as chronicles of relationships gone bad. It doesn't matter, because singer Nick Diamonds never
discloses exactly how literal he's being and that's what makes the album so compelling.
Even when the band lifts itself from sinister levels into poppier, more angelic realms, it never loses its edge. Perhaps the only exception is "Heartbeat," which utilizes pop vocal distortion and reggae backup with shallower results. The other tracks dive into deeper waters that indicate creative—though maybe not murderous—inclinations.
Islands plays the Palace Sunday, Oct. 18, at 7 PM with Jemina Pearl and Toro Y Moi. $8.