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Review: Islet - Illuminated People


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This Cardiff four-piece have been building a cult following since their emergence in 2009, and have finally released their debut album.

Islet’s press photo could be a check list for everything needed to gain credibility in the indie world right now. Stupid moustaches? Check. Oversized geek glasses? Check. Aztec prints? Check. The same could be said for their music. Nine minute opener Libra Man is a sprawling masterpiece summing up a lot of what’s good, and prevalent, about British indie at the moment - gothic monotone vocals? Check. Over-reliance on synth? Check. Post-punk influences? Check. 

IsletBut then there’s an unusual capacity for experimentation here; layered backing vocals and jagged guitars and almost tribal rhythms distinguish this from the neat anthems of bands like The Horrors, before the whole track fades out on a wave of cymbals and synth.

This constant change of direction sets the tone for the whole album: there’s the unsettling indie-folk of We Bow, the shoegaze guitars on This Fortune, the unexpected hardcore influences on Filia. Funicular is almost an innocuous indie pop song, before it mutates into a prog-rock nightmare. Closer A Bear on His Own sounds like the creepily cheery backing track to a fairground horror show.

This sounds more like a compilation than the work of just one band – which isn’t to say it’s not good. It’s schizophrenic, but the record flows: there is a darkness present on even the most upbeat tracks that glues the whole thing together, and stops the whole experience ever becoming comfortable.

Choosing a direction may allow for a more streamlined sound, but Islet’s refusal to tie themselves down to a genre makes them one of the most interesting new bands around.

Illuminated People by shaperecords

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