Releasing A Sleep & A Forgetting, the latest opus from Montreal indie rock band, Islands on Valentine’s Day feels more calculated than ironic. Frontman Nick Thorburn claims he penned the entire album from the couch of an L.A. friend’s apartment early last year after escaping a failed relationship in New York. Just him, his guitar and his tears. The result is a series of 11 introspective, wallowing pop tunes that endeavor to highlight the catharsis but more often end up drowning in it.
The problem lies primarily in the blatantly literal lyrics. It’s hard to derive what introspection Thorburn is attaining when he croons lyrics such as “I miss my wife, my home, my own bed and my old life” on ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ or “Wandering, won’t you let me in. It’s cold outside and it’s getting cold again” on ‘Cold Again’. He describes the pain, steeps in it, but fails to analyze it. Tempos rarely exceed a snail’s pace which often makes it difficult to determine where one tune ends and another begins. It also doesn’t help that such lyrics are framed by an accompaniment that rarely treads outside of a repeated three chord progression. So anyone with basic guitar skills could tackle an acoustic cover of any of A Sleep & A Forgetting’s tracks quickly, but why would they want to?