Oxford-based indie stalwarts Low Island are set to release their long-awaited debut album If You Could Have It All Again on April 16th. Experimental and genre-warping, the record innovatively melds indie and electronic as the band stamp their name firmly on the hide of the industry. Amrit Virdi offers her thoughts.
With lyricism tackling societal expectations and the harsh reality of the music industry, paired with overemphasized production, If You Could Have It All Again addresses real issues whilst still maintaining an upbeat, dance-like tone overall, as the band makes use of crescendos to bend genres. Opening track Hey Man, whilst starting off with isolated synth and vocals, crescendos into experimental production paired with haunting “oohs”, as the song rather feels like an epic drum-based grand finale rather than a beginning.
Followed by What Do You Stand For, allusive to the sound of British indie band shame, the use of rocky guitars and electronic backing in this track paired with the bawdy lyricism makes for an angsty and raw look into the ‘superstar’ life. “Maybe when you get famous you’ll move to LA with a supermodel girlfriend and other clichés,” and “it will look good in the PR” along with the rhetorical question for the listener “who are you and what do you stand for?” exemplify Low Island as using their platform to offer a realistic take of the industry, which they haven’t shied away from doing before.
‘Build-ups and switches dominate the album as the band embrace the electronic to the greatest degree yet.’
Though the pre-released lead single Who’s Having The Greatest Time? is a solid club-dance track with an 80s/90s feel, it fails to really go anywhere, however, the rest of the album cannot be defined by this. Build-ups and switches dominate the album as the band embrace the electronic to the greatest degree yet. Momentary, for example, begins as a lowkey stripped-back ballad preaching that “when we find love it’s momentary,” before a gently introduced production and instrumental build-up paired with a looming tempo take over at the bridge.
Credit has to be given to the producers as the tracks demonstrate a carefully crafted indie-electronic mix. In Your Arms appears to be a typical indie ballad until the electronic beat kicks in, and Spaces Closing In makes similar use of rumbling indie drums and guitars before an abrupt stop gives way to a synth breakdown – almost leading to there being two standalone songs in one. I Do It For You also builds to an experimental outro, which poses the question as to whether the songs are a variation on a theme and different song structures could’ve been trialed on the record.
A common thread between these tracks is the use of acoustic guitar, which complements the tone of the album joyously. Whether it’s the sole focus of the track, heard on Don’t Let The Light In (Reprise) and allowing for a greater emphasis on the soft, haunting vocals, or combined with electronic elements to bend genres on In Your Arms, it is nice to see that real instrumentation hasn’t been totally sacrificed in favour of computer-produced beats.
A special nod has to be given to the closing track What The Hell (are you gonna do now?) which seems to be a summation of the topics discussed in the tracks prior. Longing for a simple life – “I want morning routines and shopping carts” – it is a subtle and honest track that ends with a conversation about the nature of toxic productivity. The track even ends mid-conversation with a sombre “I really hope-”, which could potentially signal a continuing discussion on future releases.
With genre-breaking production and honest lyricism, If You Could Have It All Again is a strong debut from Low Island. It’s in no doubt that their unique musicality will take them far and that the future is glowing brightly for the Oxford four-piece.
Written by: Amrit Virdi
Edited by: Alex Duke