Islands - Vapours
It's not every day an album that might have been made with an $85 Peavey amp and a Gameboy sounds this damn good. Vapours, the new release by former Unicorns frontman Nick Diamond, has an ambling ease to it and a pleasing straight-ahead focus
Islands have unapologetically created sound that’s entrenched with both feet in the often meaningless morass of the "pop/rock" milieu. Everything is tasteful; the guitar tones are full and tidy, the horns hit all the right spots and fade away just the right way, the keys avoid any dance-pop brazenness – simply put, the songs are mixed to absolute perfection. This is perhaps above all a professional record.
"Tender Torture" hits the sweet spot you have to assume Islands were gunning for the whole album, with pulsing analog synths running happily with a chugging bass line and a hummable melody that would make Britt Daniel proud. Another stand-out, “Heartbeat,” is enjoyably mainstream with its auto-tuning and mawkish lyrical hook.
Much of the rest of the record, however, fails to rise up. Sure it sounds groovy, but it's not very likely to make you dance. Your brain may know the songwriting is solid, but it doesn't get more than a millimeter deep in your skin. The beats seem like they want you to move but singer Nick Diamond’s voice is firmly seated with its arms behind its head.
Even at a trim 42:28, Vapours somehow feels a little overlong and never coalesces as a larger work. Maybe it's the mostly indistinct indie voicing, or the cheeseball electronic drums, but this album does everything it's trying to above average but not a single thing amazingly well.
Even for ardent LP completionists, the best recommendation is to give it one good listen and throw the three songs you'll like into a few playlists. Maybe In a new context, the best of this album can pay off better long-term dividends
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