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You know a band has to be one of the most incredible live outfits in the country when they get signed immediately after a show in the time it takes to pop outside for a cigarette break. This is exactly what happened to Island of Love after they were invited to play The Blue Basement venue in Third Man Records - which opened in September 2021 in London as the third Third Man store after Nashville and Detroit. Island of Love were second only to Jack White himself to play the room and it was still so new that the drummer even left with paint on his back from where he’d been pressed up against the wall playing. With that on-the-spot offer, they became the first band signed to Third Man London.
The band are a unique proposition in many ways. While countless London bands continue to go down the same tired path of churning out spoken word post-punk, Island of Love marry raw, primal noise led by crunchy guitars with intrinsically melodic sensibilities - recalling the sound and spirit of peak-era Dinosaur Jr. or Husker Dü.
Following the release of 2021's 'Songs of Love' EP, the trio wrote endless songs, rehearsed with military precision and dedication, and went into the studio to lay down a fully formed album with ferocity and execution. For a debut album, and a band so young, there is a great deal of restraint and consideration to be heard. It’s an album that is loud and noisy but also filled with push-pull dynamics that results in moments of tenderness and quiet that then elevates the crunch and power of noisier parts. “The album shows the balance of it being written in bedrooms but being honed in live shows,” says Munch. “It captures a contrast.”
The band needed an engineer who could bring this out and so Jack Shirley, who has production credits that span from Deafheaven to Happy Diving (Island of Love’s biggest influence). Shirley was given a list of bands, such as noise titans Boris, for reference points, and, combined with his own deeply intuitive approach, has resulted in a mix that highlights and accentuates these contrasts - capturing both the primal rawness and the melodic sweetness of the band.
While the band have had an aesthetic fondness for metal style artwork in the past, they have moved into new terrain for this album, much as they have ventured into new musical territory. “I do a lot of the artwork but with this record I felt we've sort of done the metal thing,” says Newble. “This one is a homage to stuff like Michael Hurley. It's really cutesy comic book stuff. I like the idea of leaning into cuteness and then having some horrible gross undertones to it.”
And that there is perhaps the description that best encapsulates this album. A record that explores duality, balance and contrast; a place where grizzly teeth-rattling noise and explode like fireworks one moment before gliding seamlessly into melody-laced sugary pop hooks and the kind of considered songwriting that truly belies their age. “This album exceeded our expectations,” says Newble. “I’m really proud of it.”