Hit or Miss: Islands ‘A Sleep & A Forgetting’

Just in time for Valentines’ Day is Island’s new release, of their much anticipated fourth LP, A Sleep & A Forgetting. The Canadian indie rock/ pop band which is currently signed to Anti Records is comprised of Montreal natives: Evan Gordon, Geordie Gordon, drummer Aaron Harris, and Nicholas Thorburn, lead vocalist, guitarist and synthesizer. Islands came together in 2005 shortly after Thorburn’s previous band, which he co-founded, the Unicorn’s broke up in 2004. Since then Islands membership changed frequently, but the group never called it quits. A Sleep & A Forgetting came to life within a two-week time span. Produced by both Evan Gordon and Thorburn, the album is simplistically personal and unique. There is no flair to the band’s vocals. It’s just them and their instruments.

A Sleep & A Forgetting was written shortly after Thorburn ended a relationship in Brooklyn, the bands then homebase, and flew to Los Angeles. Thorborn says the songs were written with the help of a piano located at his temporary place of residence.

“There was a piano where I was staying and that’s where I wrote these songs,” he said. “This record deals with loss, memory, and forgetting and with dreaming.” Though the album’s title initially seems vague, it fits perfectly with the album’s concept. The album is exactly a chronicle of a love that once meant so much to someone, but now brings back painful memories. As the album’s eleven songs progress, it is easy to find oneself walking in Thorburn’s shoes. Walking in his hurt, his shame. his guilt and most of all his regret. Most of the ballads on the LP like “This Is Not Song,” manage to evoke the tale of love lost, powerlessly. Heartbreak ballads almost always seem to be powerful in delivery, but not this one. But it does the job. “Cold Again” is one of the group’s songs which seems like it was made to be an instant hit. The arrangement and its ease, much like some of the songs on the album, works well with Thorburn’s effortless crooning.

Some of other favorite tracks are the uptempo ones like “Hallways” and “Can’t Feel My Face.” These soul stirring and hand clapping songs can immediately have listeners nodding their heads. Once you hear them you will do the same. You’ll be singing “Hallwa-a-a-ys” at the top of your lungs. “Can’t Feel My Face” gets right to the point. The track starts with the following words “I miss my wife/ I miss my best friend/ every night/” and ends leaving you longing for more.*

The rest of the tracks including “Lonely Love,” “In A Dream,” and “Never Go Solo” are just as good as Coldplay’s work. This album has made me pay more attention to bands who tend to fly under the radar like Islands. The album will definitely leave listeners doing some soul searching of their own during this week of romance. Check A Sleep & A Forgetting out and see what’s in store. It might even be worth telling your friends to have a listen of their own.