As the first act signed to Jack White-owned Third Man Records, Island Of Love‘s debut album arrives freighted with expectations. After being offered a record deal shortly after headlining the label’s London venue on the second day of trading – following White’s surprise show the previous evening – they have a lot to live up to. But for this trio, it’s a credit to their live set.
The band’s roots lie in garage-rock, with their early material having been written between frontmen Karim Newble and Linus Munch’s family homes. However, their eponymous debut album moves forward from their early, DIY recording methods and instead pulls from their hell-raising onstage presence that captured the hearts of Third Man.
- READ MORE: Island Of Love: meet the first band signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records London imprint
This evolution, however, doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Just before the release of their debut EP ‘Songs Of Love’ in March 2022, they told NME: “The EP is still us playing our influences, but the LP will very much be more ambitious”. And they weren’t wrong. ‘Island Of Love’ boasts lengthy jams (‘Big Whale’), huge group singalongs (‘Island Of Love’) and punk experimentation (‘I’ve Got A Secret’).
The album allows older cuts to sit alongside newer material with ease. Scuzzy rager ‘Grow’ was the first track the band ever wrote together, and even featured on their 2020 demo collection, ‘Promo Tape’. Having been reworked with crisper production and refined melodies, the track now finds itself in indie-rock territory – far away from the lo-fi bedroom project it started out as.
At times, Island Of Love do risk donning Teenage Fanclub cosplay, but their efforts to hone a cohesive sound that honours the artists they admire shines through. Moments of solitude play out across ‘Weekend At Clive’s’, while ‘Sweet Loaf’ pairs gentle instrumentation with an exploration of relationship conflicts. “I wish I could see her all of the time / But I just could not ever make that girl mine,” Munch sings at one point.
The band’s goofy side, however, bleeds through into ‘Blues 2000’, as they add their screamo take on Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘These Words’. ‘Losing Streak’, meanwhile, mixes hard-rock grandeur with Pulp ‘Disco 2000’-inspired go-go glitz – an unexpected mix that just works.
Island Of Love haven’t reinvented noise-rock, but they don’t need to. This LP is a huge step forward for the trio, marking their growth from a band openly learning as they go, to knowing exactly what they want. By having a laugh with each other, ‘Island Of Love’ proves to be an endearing snapshot of a band ready to achieve big things.
- Release date: May 12
- Record label: Third Man Records