The Legendary Pink Dots

Island of Jewels

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Squeezed in between two of the Dots' best '80s efforts -- 1985's Asylum and 1988's Any Day Now -- Island of Jewels fares extremely well. Then again, the group was in the middle of one of its highest creative peaks in its career. Island of Jewels marks the departure of bassist/keyboardist Julia Niblock Waller (aka Poison Barbarella), replaced by bassist Jason Salmon (aka Percii Pylchardd). That change in lineup aside, the album fits in perfectly with the LPs preceding and succeeding it in the Dots' discography, both musically and lyrically, including obvious thematic connections with material found on The Tower, The Lovers, and Asylum. Highlights include the simple and gripping "The Shock of Contact," the progressive rock leanings of "Our Lady in Chambers" (part one of the "Our Lady" triptych), and the harsher "The Dairy." Island of Jewels ranks among the group's more accessible releases, since it focuses more on songwriting than on studio wizardry or sonic experiments. Edward Ka-Spel's voice is mostly left untreated, granting the singer increased human presence, instead of his usual clinical detachment. Arrangements are kept simple but intelligent, with good use made of Patrick Wright's violin and Graham Whitehead's acoustic piano, alongside the usual odd keyboard sounds and electronic textures. Island of Jewels did not contain particularly daring pieces like "A Strychnine Kiss" on Any Day Now or powerful anthems like "I'm the Way, the Truth, the Light" from Asylum, which probably explains why it remained a lesser-known entry in the group's large discography, but it never feels out of place within the corpus from that era. In fact, it is quite an enjoyable lighter release.

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