Islands is excited to reveal the details of their upcoming record, Ski Mask, set for release on Sept. 17th on frontman and principle songwriter Nick Thorburn's Manqu' label. To coincide with the announcement, Islands has made the record's first single, "Wave Forms," available as a free download on the band's Web site. Streamthe winsome, tropicalia-inflected track here. The band will also be heading out for dates in North America this fall, with stops including Boston, Portland, Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. Full tour dates below.
A record that is equal parts beauty and venom, Ski Mask percolates with the kind of polymorphous pop and hooky, left-of-center rock songs that have long been the band's stock and trade. Arguably the most sonically diverse album Islands has ever made (which is saying something), Ski Mask plays out like Thorburn's personal frustrations writ large. Songs like "Death Drive" "Nil" and "Of Corpse" balance beautiful melodies against some of the darkest lyrical missives that Thorburn has ever written.
"This record is really about being angry," says Thorburn. "For better or worse, this record kind of sums up my experience thus far with being in a band. Like the third act of a movie-just after it seems like all hope is lost, that's when the big breakthrough moment happens. For Islands, this is us waiting for the breakthrough moment."
Still, Thorburn-along with current bandmates Evan Gordon, Geordie Gordon, and Luc Laurent-can't seem to help but make beautiful music, which serves as a nice counterbalance to the record's heavier concerns. Tracks like "We'll Do It So You Don't Have To" and "Here Here" rank among some of the most beautiful the band has ever recorded. As a result, Ski Mask offers beauty and bleakness in mostly equal measure.
Thorburn, along with a rotating cast of bandmates, has been working under the moniker of Islands for nearly a decade. Formed in 2005 after the dissolution of Thorburn's previous (and much beloved) band The Unicorns, Islands quickly established themselves as one of the most erudite and forward-thinking pop bands to emerge from the Montreal rock scene. Over the course of four albums - 2006's Return to the Sea (inspired by South African high life music), 2008's Arm's Way (a study in orchestral pop music and playful psych), 2009's Vapours(pulsing electro pop), and 2012's A Sleep & A Forgetting (soulful singer/songwriter fare)-Thorburn and co. showed off a remarkably chameleonic ability to bend a variety of different musical styles to their will. With Ski Mask, Islands has synthesized their diverse musical tastes into one concise whole.
"Ski Mask is kind of a culmination of all the different things we've done over the years," says Thorburn. "It's like a summation of Islands, everything we've ever done distilled into one record. It's basically an essential introduction to Islands-it's everything we've ever been about."
Islands - Ski Mask
(Manqu' - Sept. 17th)
1. Wave Forms
2. Death Drive
3. Becoming the Gunship
5. Sad Middle
6. Hushed Tones
7. Here Here
8. Shotgun Vision
9. Of Corpse
10. We'll Do It So You Don't Have To
11. Winged Beat Drums
Upcoming tour dates
9/18: Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door
9/20: Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project
9/21: Vancouver, BC @ Media Club
9/22: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
9/24: San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
9/25: Santa Ana, CA @ The Constellation Room
9/26: Los Angeles, CA @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts
9/27: San Diego, CA @ Casbah
10/8: Boston, MA @ Great Scott
10/9: Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
10/10: Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
10/11: Detroit, MI @ The Loving Touch
10/12: Madison, WI @ Der Rathskeller
10/13: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
10/14: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
10/16: Washington, DC @ Empty Bottle
10/17: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
10/20: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom