On Islands' sophomore album, Arm's Way, the critically acclaimed Montreal based band heads in a new direction from their 2006 debut, Return To The Sea. Not only are the songs more grounded, but there was also a departure of one of the founding members, ex-Unicorn Jaime Thompson; which means that the record focuses more on the songwriting talent from the other ex-Unicorn, Nick Thornburn. That's not to say that there isn't still a quirky and playful energy that pushes the record forward.
Opening up with "The Arm," Islands gets a gold star for creating a freewheeling indie pop song that is perfect for warmer weather. The fast paced guitars on "J'aime Vous Voir Quitter" chug along, and the song follows a slow quick slow pattern, (one that we have heard from other indie bands before in the past) that is until the calypso breakdown at the end. On "Creeper" the band meddles with the electronica genre with a simple drumbeat and straightforward nature. As a matter of fact, this is the one tune on the album where Thornburn breathily speaks rather than croons. Just when you get used to the jam, Islands turn it around with the anthemic "Kids Don't Know Shit," finding Thornburn flexing his vocal muscles yet again. Finally, on the cinematic "I Feel Evil Creeping In" Islands visually paint a haunting darkness that is not only saddening, but lyrically unsettling as well.
Throughout Arm's Way hints of Ryan Hadlock's (Blonde Redhead) co-production skills can be heard, as the band continues to dive into their music gloomy lyrics head first, but still manages to slap on a shiny neo-psychedlia coat of paint on it not to make it too sad.