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Arm's Way

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iTunes Review

By the end of opening track ("The Arm") with its Spaghetti western-flavored guitars and symphonic strings executing the most perfect pas de deux in recent indie pop history, a certain anticipation settles in; it’s a real stunner. Montreal's Islands had a banner year in 2006 when they debuted with Return to the Sea, an inspiring mix of pop flavorings. Here, main Islander Nick Thorburn takes things up a notch, vying for a top spot in the (so far) sparsely populated field of indie prog-rock; Arms’ Way gives us songs that are easy to listen to but take a while to absorb, with orchestrated, lush arrangements offset by a perfect balance of rock (not pop) guitars, thundering drums, and unexpected time shifts and song structures. Thorburn’s vocals are in fine form, whether they’re wrapping around emotive high notes like an embrace, or discharging caustic stingers (the ferocious “J’aime Vous Voire Quitter” has the line: “You said you had my back/but I was attacked by a pack of dogs frothing at the mouth”).  There are many additional brilliant moments here: “Creeper,” “Kids Don’t Know,” “I Feel Evil” and the grand “To A Bond” are all dazzling, evocative, full-bodied works.  Sip and enjoy.

Customer Reviews

Decent second release

Arm's Way is an enjoyable album, with classics-in-the-making such as "The Arm" and "Creeper". However, compared to Return to the Sea, Island's latest includes many tracks which are extremely reminiscent of one another. Still, it's a pleasant album with Islands' usual quirkiness and the wonderful inclusion of strings in the mix; definately worth a listen for Islands and Unicorns fans alike.

Not the old Islands we know; nontheless, well crafted.

Just as the previous reviewers have mentioned, if you are looking forward to an album reminiscent of Return to Sea as I was, this new album will come as a suprise. Its sound is much less quirky, and perhaps, therefore, much more generic as well. All that said, Arm's Way is still a very well-constructed album, and definitely a pleasure to listening to. Die-hard fans of Islands and the Unicorns be wary, however; you might want to imagine that this is a different group of individuals altogether, and enjoy what this album has to offer any other way you can.


I think I might actually like this album better than the island's first, there's so so much going on. A little techno, a little cabaret... just the perfect combination. I don't think I'll ever get bored of this album + the band is pretty adorable. Ever since I saw islands open for metric, I've been in love.


Formed: 2005 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After the breakup of experimental lo-fi indie rock band the Unicorns, members Nicholas Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds; vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Jamie Thompson (aka J'aime Tambeur; drums) formed Islands, which found the two more focused on brighter production and neo-psychedelic indie pop. Since forming in early 2005, the Canadian band has also featured a fluctuating lineup of contributors on a wide variety of instruments, both in concert and on record. That list includes Alex and Sebastian Chow...
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Arm's Way, Islands
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Customer Ratings