It’s a good time to be Wake Island.
The electronic duo – that is, Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal – are just about to release their sophomore album OUT, and they’re doing it through Oh Hi, the artists collective they founded in Montreal.
It opens with the celestial and other worldly “Carácter,” which is like the soundtrack to another planet.
The album’s single “Never Entirely There” follows. It’s one of the more electronic-y tracks on the record, almost a throwback to synths from the ’80s. It’s a fun, quick-paced song, with vocals that drag in back, giving it an almost sleazy effect.
Meanwhile, “The Other End” gets your head bobbing with its plucky guitar, steady beat, and wonderfully cascading falsetto. “How Sad,” one of my favourite songs on OUT, is funky with deep bass and hollow tones. The whispery vocals offer an excitingly eerie atmosphere, while a guitar teases listeners.
But the music isn’t the only interesting thing about the band. On “Our Eyes Are Melting Up,” a surprisingly beautiful piano ballad, the duo offers wonderfully accessible lyrics: “I don’t really know why / I decided to talk to you / about my life this morning / I’ll keep it short, / I really don’t want to bore you anymore than I should.”
“Comfortably” picks up the pace with a quick plucking intro, sailing on before strong vocals break the throbbing sea. It’s also a harder song, with a feel of industrial steel. “Milad Majik” is next, starting smoothly and calmly, before diving into an all-out auditory assault with front-and-centre vocals, a drippy backbeat, and full, all-encompassing effects.
With an oddly fitting title, “Spring Break 2019 (I Feel Nothing)” plays with tempo, slowing, distorting, melting, and switching gears; getting heavy and softening and changing planes. It’s confusing and sad and thrilling, all at the same time.
“Bend Again” wraps up the album. Its surfy vibes and strangely cheery harmony sound almost like the early Beatles and Mac Demarco had a baby. It finally dives into a rock opera-sounding mid-song finale.
And that’s Wake Island: totally unexpected from start to finish.
Get more Wake Island at wakeislandmusic.com, and be sure to catch them on tour later this month and next.