The Mary Onettes' second album is a marked improvement over their debut. That self-titled record had an icy synth pop sound that did little to help the songs come to life; the few that did hit were so in thrall to the band's obvious heroes, Echo & the Bunnymen, that it was almost embarrassing. Islands has a much warmer sound, with the jagged beats and cold keyboards replaced by warm strings and softer, more epic-sounding percussion. The arrangements are fuller, richer, and more organic as well. Vocalist Philip Ekström cuts back a bit on the Ian McCullough croon, just a bit, but enough to make it less obvious who he's cribbing his style from. The reduction of affectation adds extra emotional power to his singing and makes it expressive and effective, instead of jarring. Islands is truly an emotion-packed record filled with missed connections, failed plans, heartbreak, and death.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra