Islands features fresh set of faces born from ashes of The Unicorns

Mark Lopez

When Canadian indie band The Unicorns broke up, fans were left wondering what went wrong. Was it us? Did their success come too fast? All of these were speculative questions as to why a band would release an album as brilliant as Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, only to suddenly disappear into the wasteland of one-hit wonders.

Thankfully, fans’ questions did not go unanswered, as Nick Thorburn announced his new musical project, Islands, in collaboration with fellow Unicorns veteran Jamie Thompson. With the new group, it seemed that Thorburn was venturing into unexplored musical territory, where maturity would play a significant factor.

Hailing from Montreal, Islands hit the scene hard with its first album, Return to the Sea, letting listeners know that Thorburn and Thompson rose from the ashes of The Unicorns and ignited exciting flames with the single “Rough Gems,” which alludes to Prince circa “When You Were Mine.”

Adding two more releases, Arm’s Way and Vapours, to its dynamic foray into mainstream music, Islands proves to be a group that has gone through some trying times but is here to stay. Thompson was not present for the recording of Arm’s Way, as he found the pressures of being in a successful band to be too much to handle. However, in June 2009, it was reported that Thompson would be making a return to Islands. The band’s third album, Vapours, was released in September, with Thompson in tow.

Though Thompson’s return is happily welcomed, perhaps the most notable aspect of Islands is Thorburn’s obsession with innovation. Thorburn revealed in an interview with Exclaim! magazine that he had gotten rid of all the members who contributed to Arm’s Way and would be forming a new group for Vapours in an effort to branch out into new musical ideas. The current lineup consists of Thorburn, Thompson and Evan and Geordie Gordon.

“It just happens that way, and I embrace it,” Thorburn told Exclaim!. “It’s hard to maneuver without consistency, but it’s nice to be afforded the opportunity to make dramatically different records.”

Islands, with its revamped vision and sound, will be making one of its only Texas stops at The Parish on Tuesday.