Can an acoustic album have the anthemic, or emotional power of a full-on rock album?
In the case of this album, yes, absolutely. Isle of ease’s second album, and LP debut, is defined by a rowdy and always emotionally packed sound that pulls on something primitive in its listener, the way the best music does.
These are footstompers, with commendable song structures, alternating with slower jams. It’s an interesting sound, and as far as the local music scene goes – an interesting sound no one else is filling at the moment. They cover enough sonic ground here that they could be on a bill alongside any sort of local band, and that alone makes the album an interesting, accessible one for a huge range of music fans.
The album opens with its single, “Roads,” and from its aching opening riff, it straps you in for a ride through a seven-minute ballad that builds and blooms and drives you like a tour bus through unpredictable territory. The album’s second track, “Conscription Eye,” follows suit and is the best example of how the band really, really harness a bounce-and-sway rhythm that makes their songs such footstompin’ singalongs.
These are heartfelt, carefully crafted tunes, and the production style of the record does an exceptional job of showcasing that, while also imbuing the record in a sound as distinct as their songs. There are constantly surprising twists in these songs, and every track feels full of well-placed fingers snaps, swirling organs, or innovative background vocals so the songs feel infectiously full catchy and anything but dull.
See “Nor-Easter” for a great example of this, kick back with it on and listen to how they fill any spaces and gaps in the core of the song. Which is not to say they don’t appreciate proper pace management and track listing. Track four slows things down with a simple love song called “Like That,” and the song’s title is a contraction of a plea in the song for a lover to come over for tea. “Would you like that? I would like that.” But again, for a simple, slow, acoustic song, they know how to keep things interesting and engaging with some reverb-ed whistles, bouncy guitar work, and just the right brushstroked drums.
Track 5, a piano ballad, drops all of the trickery in the other songs, before the ensuing upswing in temp from tracks 6-10. The strumming on track 6, “Stepping Stones,” is rowdy enough you’d be right to wonder if robot machine hands is strumming that guitar. And as always the drums are doing just the right thing for the song.
If you like songs that chant and roar and beg you to move, and if you like energetic acoustic-driven songs, then here’s an easy recommendation for you.