[Album Review] No Island- Better Days
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)


Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Label: Independent

Better Days is the first full-length studio album from Vancouver-band No Island. With thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign, the album was recorded in 2014 and released April 21st of 2015.

Pleasant hooks and harmonies make Better Days an album that is easy to listen to.
The trademark sounds of this album are a ballad-y, and sometimes brooding piano, funky slap-bass licks, and clean, perfectly balanced four part harmonies. Better Days is a flashback nod to older pop days-gone-by. The tunes are reminiscent of classic Billy Joel or Elton John hits. Crooning saxophone solos and the occasional twangy guitar take the sound on slight rockabilly, jazz, and even disco detours, but in its purest form this album is true pop.

Clarity and universality of the lyrics was an important factor for the band-mates when writing Better Days, and that special attention shows. Storytelling in a most straightforward form, there are no hidden nuances or metaphors embedded within the text, and sometimes, as is the case with this kind of easy-listening music, that’s a good thing.

Stand-out songs are “Held You Up,” a heavier, more funkadelic tune that erupts right off the bat with some face melting saxophone and a glam-metal guitar solo-ing before digressing into a jazzy serenade of playful pauses. “City of Strangers,” also has a very dreamy softness to it, making use of the occasional time-signature change up on percussion to break up its 2/4 flow, and ending with a long, tangenting bridge that showcases each band members talents for solo-ing instrumentation.

Structurally, and rhythmically, these songs follow a kind of tried and true formula. Lyrics, coupled with chord progressions and harmonies verge on the kind of theatrical drama I enjoy while listening to a band like Queen for example, however I still find my overall feeling about this Better Days was that it plays it pretty safe.
No doubt there is raw talent contained within these tracks, much precision and intentionality in the songwriting, and a definite audible chemistry between No Island’s members, however while I enjoyed the album, I didn’t find my ears terribly enthralled or emotionally seduced by anything in particular.