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Montreal’s ISLANDS share second single from first album in 5 years

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Today, acclaimed Montreal indie synth-rockers Islands are sharing a second single “Set The Fairlight” from their upcoming album Islomania. Last month, Islands returned from retirement with a bang with the announcement of their first new album in 5 years, Islomania (out June 11th on Royal Mountain Records), and shared the single “(We Like To) Do It With The Lights On.” The track ignited immediate excitement from the press, with Rolling Stone describing the track as “a catchy bit of dance-pop led by an irrepressible bass line and a vocal performance from Nick Thorburn that flits between blasé, charming, and exuberant” and Consequence calling it “a sleek and colourful club cut [that’s]a hell of a lot of fun,” alongside praise from outlets like Pitchfork, Stereogum, and BrooklynVegan.

Today, Islands are sharing a second single from the album “Set The Fairlight.
WATCH: Islands’ video for “Set the Fairlight” here

A shining example of Nick Thorburn‘s penchant for bright, expertly crafted pop songs that hint at something darker behind their hooks, “Set The Fairlight” sees him teaming up with producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) for a track that sees him grappling with uncertainty.

This was the last song made for the album, written and recorded during the pandemic,” Thorburn explains. “I suppose it’s vaguely about the feeling of anxiety and fear brought on by COVID. There’s separation (by a cemetery wall – grim!), isolation and the desire to reach out and touch someone. None of these themes were calculated or laboured over, though. Like most of my songwriting, I kind of let the subconscious take the wheel. I find I get to more interesting places when I’m not trying to steer the metaphors.

Five years after Islands went dormant, Nick Thorburn resurrected the band, who reemerge this year with their 8th album, Islomania. More than two years in the making, Islomania is a culmination of things Thorburn learned from the intervening period and all the things he’d accomplished during the band’s initial ten year run.



That initial session at Sunset Sound also featured Mike Stroud (RATATAT) on guitar, who then invited Thorburn to his studio in the Catskills, where they worked on another song (“A Passionate Age”). With Islands bassist Evan Gordon soon brought into the fold, Islomania slowly came to life over the coming year, with more sessions in LA involving producer Patrick Ford (Tanlines, !!!) and Coady. When the songs had been sufficiently finessed, they brought on John Congleton (Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent) to mix and Joe LaPorta (Vampire Weekend, David Bowie) to master.

“I was determined to let the record breathe, let the process take as long as it needed. I wanted the freedom to rework the songs as we went along,” says Thorburn, noting that the band’s simultaneously released 2016 albums Taste and Should I Remain Here at Sea? were completely recorded in a three-week span. Through this unhurried process, Islands found an entirely new form for their idiosyncratic blend of art rock and synth-pop, ultimately arriving at their strongest record yet.

Over the course of ten groove-heavy songs, Islomania flits from the ridiculous to the sublime. On the surface, these songs are all blissful hedonism, tracing the reckless abandon of a progressively wild Friday night. But pick at the scab and there’s a darkness. Themes of futility and repetition (“Closed Captioning”), a yearning for transcendence (“Natural Law Party”), a need for understanding (“A Passionate Age”) and a deep desire for vulnerability and intimacy (“We Like to Do it With the Lights On”) thread the album. “Tension and release exist throughout. Every song here begins bottled up, but there’s always a cathartic release by the end. There’s darkness and doubt in every crevice of this record, but there’s always a release,” Thorburn says.

Islomania will be released on June 11th, 2021 via Royal Mountain Records.
You can pre-order it here.

Islomania by Islands

Tracklist
1. Islomania
2. (We Like To) Do It With The Lights On
3. Carpenter
4. Closed Captioning
5. Set The Fairlight
6. A Passionate Age
7. Natural Law Party
8. Never Let You Down
9. Marble
10. Gore

by Conor Mackie

lead photo by Jason Tippett

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