The Isles

Perfumed Lands

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Unlike so many bands of the '90s and early 2000s inspired by and sounding like the Smiths who embarrass themselves with faux-Anglo accents, goofy lyrics, and dated production, the Isles have crafted a strong, slow-burning grower for their debut. Album opener "Major Ariana" could easily be mistaken for a B-side from The Queen Is Dead, perhaps one handled by a guest vocalist had Morrissey ever allowed such sacrilege. Especially in this opening track, but evident throughout the album, are hints of Morrissey's dramatic inflection in Andrew Geller's singing, but his is more of a sleepy, swooning delivery along the lines of the Clientele's Alasdair MacLean. There's also a hint of the Interpol school of Ian Curtis-aping in Geller's often staccato pacing, but it's more because he's matching the quick step of the beat than attempting the distasteful mockery of bands like She Wants Revenge. But the Isles aren't completely indebted to the past, as seen in the Shins-esque nursery rhyme-like "Hide Your Work." Sure there's more than a tiny dose of Johnny Marr's chiming jangle in the guitar lines of the song, but the dreamy, syncopated mood points more toward psychedelia than post-punk. Tracks like "We Give a Receipt" and "Eve of the Battle," where Geller traverses perhaps a bit too far into monotone Curtis intonation, are still winning because of their strong melodies and his bandmates' excellent playing. When they're firing on all cylinders as on the delightfully jaunty "Terraforming," they distance themselves leaps and bounds beyond their peers. Perfumed Lands is a subtle charmer that sounds better and better with each new listen.

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