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Downtown Festival

On the first track from Islands’ new album—the winsome, tropicalia-inflected “Wave
Forms”—front man Nick Thorburn opens the record by singing, “I won’t ride another
wave and I won’t write another word after today.” In light of the rest of the album, the
statement is both an admonition and a kind of warning. Ski Mask, the band’s fifth album,
is equal parts beauty and venom—an album that percolates with the kind of
polymorphous pop and hooky, left-of-center rock songs that have long been the band’s
stock and trade. This time around, however, the artful indie-pop comes with a decidedly
melancholy punch.

“This record is really about being angry,” says Thorburn. “For better or worse, this record
kind of sums up my experience thus far with being in a band. I feel like we’re kind of at a
crossroads and this record is kind of me just declaring forfeiture in some ways. Like the
third act of a movie—just after it seems like all hope is lost, that’s when the big
breakthrough moment happens. For Islands, this is us waiting for the breakthrough

For Thorburn and his bandmates, the release of Ski Mask is something akin to throwing
down the gauntlet. It’s also the first (and one hopes, not the last) album to be released on
the band’s own Manqué label. Despite whatever reservations Thorburn has about
navigating the murky waters of the music business, he remains genuflect about the band.
“I feel like I’m still getting better at making songs and making records,” he says. “It took
a while for us to find ourselves as a band and so much of this record is about struggling
and confusion, but I do think we’ve really come into our own with this record. It feels
like the best representation of Islands that has probably ever existed. For the first time in
a long while, I’m genuinely excited about what happens next.”



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