By Liam Prost
When a band releases two records in quick succession, one of two things can happen. Either both records can sound largely the same, leading one of the two to be dismissed outright (see Beach House’s latest releases), or, they can be stylistically counterposed (such as Bright Eyes’ rootsy I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and dominantly electronic Digital Ash in a Digital Urn).
By putting out two records so close together, Islands does themselves, and us, a disservice by forcing the records to read in relation to each other, which is especially unfair given how balanced and well-constructed both records are, despite not markedly different.
Given the name if nothing else, Should I Remain Here at Sea? is easily readable as a comment on Islands career since their debut Return to the Sea. The latter was a gloriously unpolished record, seeping syrupy pop hooks from every corner, very much a tie-in to Nick Diamond’s previous band The Unicorns. The operative assumption of SIRHAS? however, is that the band still is, in fact, at sea. Six releases later, Islands’ pop-rock aesthetic has been polished to death, such that the suggestion that Islands is the same band that produced Return ring false.
Taste is mostly synth and electronics driven, which is the strongest contrast to SIRHAS?’s stripped down, guitar pop style. The former record is also more political than personal, with nods to male privilege and police brutality. Both records are strong in their own right, and it feels wrong to condemn a release strategy, but there is simply too much music in the world to give them both the time they deserve.Islands, Should I Remain Here at Sea?, Taste