Islands Return with Raw, Unfiltered Sound on Tenth Album What Occurs

Islands is set to release their much-anticipated tenth album, What Occurs, on June 21st, 2024. Marking a significant departure from their previous work, the album captures the raw essence of the band, embracing a live-off-the-floor approach that eschews extensive production layers for a more immediate and unfiltered sound.

Produced entirely by the band during the summer of 2023 and mixed by acclaimed producer Colin Stewart (New Pornographers, Destroyer), What Occurs is Islands' first Canadian-made record since their 2006 debut, Return to the Sea. The creative process was notably spontaneous, as frontman Nick Thorburn explains, "For the first time, we went in cold... I brought in the music and we learned it sitting together in the room. And then we hit record. Decisions had to be made very quickly." The result is a collection of songs brimming with raw spontaneity and a decade's worth of honed craft, each track offering a unique perspective and narrative voice.

Lyrically, What Occurs traverses a spectrum of emotions and characters. From the lovelorn loser in "Drown A Fish" to the spellbound lover in "Tangerine," and the doom-scroller bracing for armageddon in the title track, the album delves deep into diverse human experiences. Other standout tracks include "Arachnophobia," a humorous take on fear, and "Sally Doesn’t Work Here Anymore," a tale of gentle rejection. The narrative breadth continues with "David Geffen’s Jackson Pollock," an art thief's near escape, and "Talk Is Cheap," a raw depiction of a liberation movement.

Stylistically, the album is a sonic adventure. The apocalyptic folk of "On the Internet" showcases Thorburn's rarely featured baritone, while the synth-drenched dream pop of "Sally Doesn’t Work Here Anymore" transports listeners to a druggy, Jupiter-4 landscape. The title track opens the album with Penguin Cafe-esque piano notes that build to an unexpected mandolin solo. From there, the energetic power pop of "Drown A Fish" and the '60s-inspired, Stax-style guitar work on "Arachnophobia" keep listeners on their toes. The angry guitar stabs of "Talk Is Cheap" contrast beautifully with the '70s soft rock vibe of "Move Some More."

Despite facing challenges, including Thorburn's severe basketball injury just before recording, the band channeled their energy and passion into every note. Recorded entirely in Thorburn's home province of British Columbia, the album is both a homage to his roots and a bold step forward in Islands' evolving sound.

Currently based in Los Angeles, Thorburn's return to Vancouver Island for this record feels both like a homecoming and a new beginning. "With recording this album entirely in my home province, I wanted to tap into my Canadian forebears a little bit," Thorburn reflects. Subtle acknowledgments to greats like Destroyer, Teenage Head, and Neil Young permeate the album, creating a rich tapestry of influence and innovation that marks What Occurs as a milestone in Islands' discography. 

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