I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing ISLAND three times, twice in a tiny East London boozer playing with ramshackle gear, and once at Heaven with a full road crew and a state of the art club sound system. It doesn’t seem to matter much – their sound is so expertly crafted that the music’s effect on you is the same – it simply “Feels Like Air”.
And so, following on from late 2017’s ‘The Day I Die,’ we have the new single, ‘Ride,’ from the aforementioned debut album. All the hallmarks of the ISLAND sound are out in full force here: delay-laden duetting guitar delicacies, full-bodied bass tones from James Wolfe, and the crisp, articulate drumming of Toby Richards. However, the secret sauce that sets ISLAND apart from their contemporaries is the power in frontman Rollo Doherty’s voice. Rich, grainy and distinctive, it’s claret in a world where male voices too often offer either little more than autotuned Ribena or testosterone-fuelled lager. Lead guitar player Jack Raeder critically seems to understand this and artfully constructs colourful flashes that adorn the main melody, briefly drawing the listeners attention before they vanish into delay, leaving enough space for the driving drums and vocals.
The track hints at the pressures of the road on an undefined relationship. Understandable lyrical territory, given the increased touring pressure that must come with an irrepressible ascent as last year was for the band. Doherty’s lyrical method has often relied on the tried-and-trusted trick of filling the verses with detail to earn the right to unleash the power of simplicity during the chorus. He’s at it again in ‘Ride,’ painting a picture of a relationship that both parties know is doomed to failure (“I know she know’s”), but yet are unwilling to sacrifice (“We fly, we flicker-float, turn it upside-down in the afterglow”).
In summation, ‘Ride’ has done an admirable job of continuing ISLAND’s arc into 2018 and cementing their unmistakable signature sound in the ears of their many fans. Whilst it’s not the most adventurous track the band have released (that honour would have to go to the peerless ‘Spotless Mind’ in my opinion), if you subscribe to the view that the devil’s in the detail, then this is a very fine offering, to say the least.
‘Ride’ is taken from the band’s upcoming debut album ‘Feels Like Air,’ released on Frenchkiss Records. Pre-Orders of the record can be made here.
ISLAND will play the following UK & European headline dates in 2018:
19 – Rotterdam – Motel Mozaique
20 – Berlin – Musik & Frieden
21 – Dresden – Polimagie at Beatpol & Ostpol
23 – Heidelberg – Karlstorbahnof
24 – Amsterdam – Paradiso
25 – Urecht – TivoliVredenburg’s Club Nine
26 – Hasselt – Cafe Cafe
27 – Paris – Supersonic
4 – Madrid – Costello
5 – Barcelona – La Nau
12 – Dublin – Whelans
14 – Liverpool – Buyers Club
15 – Glasgow – King Tuts
16 – Newcastle – Cluny 2
17- Manchester – Ruby Lounge
19 – Nottingham – Bodega
21 – Bristol – Thekla
22 – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Back
23 – London – KOKO
Photo Credit: Melanie Tjoeng