CD Review: Said the Whale – Islands Disappear

CD Review Said The Whale Islands Disappear By: Sheena Lyonnais
July 8, 2010

Vancouver’s Said The Whale have returned with a full-length album that is prepared to swallow you whole.  Islands Disappear shines in lyrics and instrumentation, spread across a sea of reflection, growing up on the West Coast where girls sometimes flee to Ontario and we leave our homes sooner than we ever imagined we would.

Said the Whale is a band comprised of poets in the tradition of vast Canadian landscapes, a beam of nostalgia and knowledge that stems from an appreciation of heritage, youthfulness and progress.  “False Creek Change” is the anthem for watching your hometown change, stylistically embracing a celebrated folksy feel with melody and pretty keys.  The lyrics shine more than the melody at times, especially in tracks like “Emerald Lake, AB” where the song seems more fast-paced than the impacting lyrics suggest. However, this simultaneously serves as a testament to their originality and vision, something that is never jeopardized throughout the 13 tracks.

The title track is equal parts moody and magical and features an array of subtle instruments from trombones, mellotron’s, trumpet and saxophones.  Throughout the album, notable female musicians guest sing, such as Hannah Georgas on “Out on the Shield” and “B.C. Orienteering” and Rah Rah’s Erin Passmore on the beautiful, enigmatic “A Cold Night Close to the End.”  “Goodnight Moon” is a collaboration and a ton of fun, featuring guests including Dan Mangan, Hey Ocean’s Ashleigh Ball and David Beckingham, and Shane Nelken, to name only a few, singing “you’ve got so much love.”

The album ends with the aforementioned “Holly, Ontario,” a somber track that showcases the band’s elegance.  It’s short and sweet, lasting long enough to leave us wanting more without overstaying its welcome.  Islands Disappear is a beautiful, inspired record that delivers intelligence and awareness similar artists lack.  A collection of songs that simultaneously move you and get you moving.   Solid and well done.

TTTT (out of 5)

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