So, I spent this entire month just listening to Islands' entire discography. I was honestly super excited taking into account how great I found "Return To The Sea" to be a great record, and also, the importance of this band being the successor to The Unicorns, it alone gives a pretty exciting perspective on what's to come in their discography. Yet, sadly... Islands were never able to get to that level again, and everything since the release of their debut record simply never worked as efficiently.
I think their follow-up to "Return To The Sea", "Arm's Way" had some decent ideas, but they dragged on for far too long to the point where the album became one of the most boring things towards the end. "A Sleep & A Forgetting" is probably their most decent record since their debut, having a really solid first half, yet the second half suddenly shifts into this boring and uninteresting stripped-back sound, which just kills off the record. Even then, that terrible second half wouldn't be enough to prepare us for their next album, "Ski Mask", which was a mess, and it honestly is the worst record Islands ever got to make, with all of it feeling generic, even more so than "Taste", which let me tell you, it's almost embarrassing to hear a band that actually had very interesting ideas just resort into doing well, what everyone else was in the indie-pop sphere. "Should I Remain Here At Sea?" almost seemed like a bounce back, and a return to form because of those first 3 songs being the best islands songs in years, but everything else had the same issue as "A Sleep & A Forgetting", boring and dull songs that added nothing to the record.
After a streak of overly mediocre albums, Islands went into a hiatus that almost felt as the band just ending off, but, finally, after 5 years, "Islomania" came out, a record that had the task of revitalizing the band's career and being able to bring in some of that energy and uniqueness that had long been gone. And well, I can at least tell that it was able to accomplish one of those things. This album actually feels interesting, and as if the members actually sat down and said to themselves, "let's make this good". This record has that variety that I loved so freaking much from the band's debut and even from "Arm's Way". They took from so many different places and genuinely tried making it sound fun and charming again.
But here's the deal, "Islomania" is hands down, one of the least unique records I've heard in a while. Like, there are no original ideas here, everything is just a reprise of what other artists have done previously, even in this same decade. I honestly couldn't believe the fact that they are already ripping off "The Adults Are Talking" by The Strokes, like, it had been just one year a couple of months since that song came out. Not just that, there's even a track that sounds like something Daft Punk would've made, all of the record has such a similar aesthetic to Vampire Weekend's "Contra", especially moments like "Gore", hell, a lot of tracks here seem stuck on the early 2010s era of indie-rock and indie-pop. It's weird because I love all these things they're taking heavy inspiration from, but that's the thing too, the fact that it's so easy for me to be able to recognize where all of these sounds came from just makes me not like the record. I'm okay with bands grabbing from others, hell, Plunderphonics is one of my favorite genres and that's all about taking from others, but, when it's just so similar to the source material, I wonder what even the point of listening to this is when there's a far superior and a lot more unique and impressive version out there.
I thank Islands for once more, trying to give something fun and entertaining, and actually putting some more effort into their performances, but, the fact that pretty much everything here just seems as if it's ripping off some other, and far superior act, just makes you never wanna go back to this and actually listen to what inspired it. It's sad too because this album could've very well tried giving Islands a push to get back to at the very least, a better position they're in, and perhaps this is just a first step into that, but, that means there's still a long way to go until achieving something that's at least good. Until then, Islands will stay stuck in mediocrity which they've been stuck for far too long.