Feels Like Air


Sony, 2018


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Island’s music has got all the right ingredients for a pop crossover. Feels Like Air, the group’s debut full-length, knows how to tug at the listener’s heartstrings with evocative songs that are perfectly melodious. This is thanks to the comforting guitar-driven music and lead singer Rollo Doherty’s “doe-eyed,” emotionally drenched vocals that sound murderously romantic, even if he is singing about picking his nose.

There is a sense of the generic and mundane in tracks like “We Can Go Anywhere” and “Feels Like Air,” which aren’t really “bad.” But they do carry the “Fix You” (the Coldplay cut) bug, with their all-too-eager gushing of emotions and reflective music of the most plain-vanilla kind, which inescapably conjure images of cheesy TV show endings.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, this is not to say that Island has no personality; it’s quite the opposite. Frontman Rollo Doherty’s nasal and raspy voice is so not typical by any measure. Despite this, he is damn effective at injecting passion and romanticism in the music, which flawlessly compliments its melodiousness.

The music on this release has a distinct flavor,  too. For a guitar-based rock outfit, Island’s music – almost as if staying true to the album title – has a minimalistic, hushed quality, where moments of silence are as key as the music itself. The guitars shimmer but are plucked gently with caution, as if guitarist Jack Raeder is carefully skipping rocks over a peaceful body of water. James Wolfe’s bass playing and Toby Richards’ drumming are equally circumspect, but not without delicately adding some smooth grooves to the tender guitars.

With the above musical template and seriously strong songwriting dominating the album, Feels Like Air is a formidable debut effort. Highlights include, “Ride,” “Try,” “Something Perfect,” “Moth,” and especially the closing number “Lily Flower,” a haunting acoustic track, which is musically different and even more hushed than the rest of the disc.

When groups make the leap into the much-derided world of pop, they almost inevitably give up their sense of uniqueness and lose the “wow factor” that made them so appealing to the few in the very beginning. Although Feels Like Air just by its nature is prime for pop music consumption, it doesn’t sound flavorless and has it own true character.

The direction that the band takes next will be very interesting!

Rating: B

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