Indie rockers Islands have risen again after a three-year wait between albums with a new song, “Wave Forms,” and the promise of their fourth album, which bears the ambiguously ominous title Ski Mask, this fall. The single, whose cover swagger-jacks Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, begins with plinky pianos and propulsive clacking and finds frontman Nick Thorburn making one “islands” referential lyric after another: “I won’t ride another wave,” he sings at one point, “No wave forms out here adrift amidst an endless sea,” he then exclaims before proclaiming he’s floating endlessly. But that’s not where the literalist metaphors end: the chorus sports Caribbean-like xylophone jitters and more lyrics about water. It’s short, sweet and seems to find the band in a good place.
But the positivity is relative, according to the singer. “This record is really about being angry,” Thorburn said in a press release. “For better or worse, this record kind of sums up my experience thus far with being in a band. Like the third act of a movie — just after it seems like all hope is lost, that’s when the big breakthrough moment happens. For Islands, this is us waiting for the breakthrough moment.”
The album, which the press release promises will sound more upbeat than Thorburn’s depressive digression, contains 11 tracks with mostly wry titles like “Of Corpse” and “Death Drive.” “Ski Mask is kind of a culmination of all the different things we’ve done over the years,” said the frontman, who formed the group in 2005 after first garnering attention with his group the Unicorns. “It’s like a summation of Islands, everything we’ve ever done distilled into one record. It’s basically an essential introduction to Islands—it’s everything we’ve ever been about.” We’ll find out on the album’s release date if that’s a good thing.
Ski Mask will come out September 17 via Manqué.