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(Artikelnr: 808)

Label: Labrador
Released: November 4, 2009

Right from the start, it’s difficult not to take notice of the thematic thread running through The Mary Onettes sophomore record, Islands. While the LP’s title might initially lead to tropical, Jimmy Buffet-inspired images of Pina Coladas and bikinis, once you actually put the album on you’ll realize that TMO’s were probably reading Donne’s Devotions rather than listening to Margaritaville. The songs give it away as well, as titles like ‘Once I Was Pretty’, ‘God Knows I Had Plans’ and ‘The Disappearance of my Youth’ don’t exactly sound like feel good sing-a-longs, do they? Unless you have a different idea about feel good sing-a-longs than I do.

But part of what makes TMO’s work is their ability to deliver the saddest sentiment in the most beautiful and uplifting package. Sure, it’s difficult to ignore the hints of Echo & The Bunnymen, Ride or Isn’t Anything era My Bloody Valentine in their dreamy pop, but nothing here feels like a direct lift from bands of days gone by. They’re simply surfing similar stylistic waters. And their meld of shoegaze sounds with anthemic pop makes the trip well worth taking.

Like Donne’s meditation, the record explores feelings of loss, isolation and mortality. The record runs the emotional gamut, from the denial of ‘Puzzles’ (’Let’s make this year look good tonight/I know it hasn’t been the best year, so let’s be numb’), the regret of ‘God Knows I Had Plans’ (’You should know I had a plan/I didn’t mean to let you go/I talk more than I can breathe’), and the acceptance of ‘Don’t Cry For Love’ (’It’s just a matter of time/Before they put me in the grave/Before they put you in the grave’).

Lyrically, the band are at the top of their game, and have left their first record in the dust. The arrangements soar and surround you like a warm blanket, and there’s no filler in sight. In an age where the album as an art form has suffered, The Mary Onettes have proved it still has something to offer. I’d say fans of shoegaze, The Shout Out Louds or M83’s gorgeous 2008 release, Saturdays=Youth will feel right at home with Islands. Even if those outfits aren’t your cup of tea, you should still try this out.

Review from:

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new wave / pop / rock
1. Puzzles
2. Dare
3. Once I Was Pretty
4. Cry For Love
5. The Disapperance Of My Youth
6. God Knows I Had Plans
7. Symmetry
8. Century
9. Whatever Saves Me
10. Bricks
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