Released in conjunction with the relatively subdued Should I Remain Here at Sea?, Islands' sixth studio album, Taste, is a bright, sparkling addition to their catalog. While the band insisted that these two LPs were not a double album, it's hard to digest one without considering the other: Taste is the beating heart to the soul of Should I Remain Here at Sea? Imbued with catchy synth arpeggios, slinky rhythms, and the band's most polished production to date, Taste is the cool party before Should I Remain's come-down ruminations. Less unhinged than 2008's Arm's Way and more streamlined than 2009's Vapours, Taste manages to be both magically buoyant and hypnotically focused, whether lead Islander Nick Thorburn is riding along undulating flows or switching gears into reflective mode ("Outspoken Dirt Biker" and "Cool Intentions"). The most vibrant moments blend early aughts dance rock gloss -- think Fischerspooner and the Rapture -- and digitized sheen -- such as Röyksopp, Air, and M83 -- like on the aptly titled album-opener "Charm Offensive" and the shimmering synth gem "The Weekend." Taste is also Islands' most physically propulsive record, maintaining a thrilling momentum for most of the duration. Punchier tracks like "It's Heaven" and "Snowflake" add jagged edges to the proceedings, while the throb of "No Milk No Sugar" and the urgent "The Joke" amp up the intensity with thick drum pops courtesy of Adam Halferty. There's a pulse to Taste that maintains focus, like the heartbeat of a singular sonic organism. Whether consumed by itself or paired with its quieter sibling, Taste excites in a way that Islands have not elicited prior to this release, offering a body-moving experience to balance their typically quirky indie rock tendencies.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung