Indie-pop band The Unicorns formed in 2000, among the lush surroundings of Montreal's effervescent music scene. When their hectic touring schedule drove them to exhaustion they left a short message on their website reading "THE UNICORNS ARE DEAD, (R.I.P.)" Shortly afterwards they formed Islands and went on to release their startling debut Return to the Sea in 2006, garnering much notice for its guest appearances from members of Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade.
With rhythms as strong as ever, the departure of drummer Jamie "J'aime Tambeur" Thompson doesn't seem to have had any adverse effects on Islands' follow up, Arm's Way. Though the amount of exotic Caribbean percussion instruments used has diminished, they are still present, albeit more subtly. Where on Return to the Sea Nicolas "Nick Diamonds" Thorburn and Co. seemed to be experimenting with as many styles as possible, from classical to bluegrass to rap, on Arm's Way they appear to have found their niche. Though the album retains Island's varied punk, classical, Mexican and Caribbean influences, they have managed to create a more distinctive sound, forming, on the whole, a much more cohesive album than its predecessor.
Islands are a playful and inventive band with a self-aware sense of humour (the terrible pun of the title is testament to this). Classically arranged violins underpin the entire album, from the cinematic magnitude of In The Rushes to the pop-punk energy of J'aime Vous Voire Quitter. Strong beats and a killer hook means Creeper has all the ingredients of a dance-pop hit single, except, of course, a sexy lady to jiggle her booty at the camera. With songs varying in length from three to eleven minutes, it's a good thing that Nick Thorburn's song writing contains enough variety to make each song feel like four in one.
Return to the Sea was great. This is fan-frickin-tastic!