"Vapours," the title of Islands' third full-length album, materialized after a particularly boisterous show last year in Switzerland.
After his opening set, Los Angeles rapper Subtitle watched the Montreal indie-pop band put on a dazzling performance.
"After the show he said we were so good that there were vapors coming off the crowd," Islands frontman Nick Diamonds recalls. "It boiled down to a new way of interpreting entertainment; it was like we had cast a spell over the audience."
Islands will get the chance to hypnotize larger crowds this fall, when the group opens for veteran alt-rockers the Psychedelic Furs on a brief North American trek (starting September 28 in Tampa) before kicking off a headlining U.S. tour.
Stuffed with pop hooks built around flashy synths and drum machines, the Anti- album -- to be released today (September 21) -- seems tailor-made for larger venues. "Vapours" abandons the heavy themes of last year's "Arm's Way" and offers more light thrills along the lines of 2006's "Return to the Sea" and Diamonds' previous work with lauded pop group the Unicorns.
The singer-songwriter credits the return to form to the recording process, which began in January in New York and was broken into different parts for instruments, vocals and mixing. "For 'Arm's Way,' we were rehearsing every day, so everything was accounted for in the studio and kind of claustrophobic," says Diamonds. "This record was built more vertically, so some songs took on a completely different direction than their demos."
The album's immediacy can also be attributed to the return of drummer Jamie Thompson, who left Islands after the release of "Sea" to pursue other projects. Although Diamonds admits "there was a bit of bad blood" when Thompson left, he thought that working with his longtime friend "felt right for this record" and recruited him.
While Anti-, which signed the band in early 2008, releases the album in North America, Islands is looking for international distribution. But Diamonds seems entirely focused on the upcoming tour: The band will forgo its usual six-member lineup and play as a four-piece. "The shows will be much more skeletal and sparse," Diamonds says, "but in a good way, with more space for each of us to work."