Islands

Arm's Way (Anti-)

Phases and Stages

Islands

Arm's Way (Anti-)

Nick Thorburn's Islands are nothing like their Montreal predecessors. The sextet's sophomore LP merges Britpop and Broadway, Thorburn the new Jarvis Cocker. The Pulp frontman embodies entertainment, presenting pop anthems as masterpieces, and Thorburn pours just such confidence into Arm's Way. "The Arm" flexes deliciously epic as the opener, guitar balancing the dainty piano on a tightrope, and "Pieces of You" blasts sax nostalgia with its theatrical crescendos. "Creeper" sticks to the ribs like no dance-punk before, and "I Feel Evil Creeping In" unveils pure musical storytelling. All could be written off as indie rock posturing were it not for 11-minute closer "Vertigo (If It's a Crime)," a sepia-tinged, tumbleweed-strewn slow burn. Thorburn not only confirms his frontman status, but he proves once again that songwriting's more than just pretty melodies and rhymes. He lives in a land of make believe.

***.5

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