"Life's not a gas, it's a gas chamber": Islands Ski Mask reviewed
With each subsequent Islands' new album release, Ski Mask being this fifth such release, I find myself hurriedly burning through it in search of a song in the same stratosphere as "Swans (Life After Death)."
Unfortunately, Ski Mask doesn't have any such songs, although opener "Wave Forms" is probably the closest they've come, and by they, I of course mean mercurial frontman/Islands only constant Nick Thorburn.
The singer formerly known as Nick Diamonds seems to be constantly haunted by past achievements, which I suppose is something that can be said of all musicians. He probably hoped those would ceased with the exit of longtime drummer/collaborator Jamie Thompson (a.k.a. Jaime T'ambour). And yet here we all are pining for more "Swans" or "Switched On."
The problem with this mindset, even though all it is is basic human nature, is that it ignores the work the artist is currently doing. Assholes like me who only want to hear Thorburn rewrite "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby" and other such past hits is that we (conceivably) complete miss tracks like "Hushed Tones," which is probably as straight forward and focused a song as he's ever written.
All the aspects of what made people fall in love with Thorburn's work is still present on Ski Mask. The emotive, often tongue-in-cheek lyrics permeate the record. See the quote in this post's title. The raw energy and memorably guitar hooks are as well, see lead single, "Becoming the Gunship."
The calypso-influence is still around too, although it's as sparsely used as it's ever been on one of Thorburn record. This is likely a conscience effort, as Thorburn continues to try and out-run his past.
And really who can blame him? Here he's gone and put out a very stellar indie guitar pop record in Ski Mask, and all anyone can say is, "You were better a decade earlier!?!?!?!"
Even if such statements are factually correct, fuck that noise.
Especially if you're Mr. Thorburn.