Although Montreal's turn-of-the-century indie-rock renaissance produced a host of now-iconic bands (The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, etc.), the short-lived, ill-fated trio the Unicorns were responsible for what is arguably the movement's best album, 2003's Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? When the Unicorns broke up in 2004, singer/guitarist Nick Thorburn and drummer Jaime Thompson went on to form Islands. On its 2006 gem Return to the Sea, Islands retains two of its predecessor's best traits: Thorburn's nasally, understated voice and his uncanny ability to craft sprawling, catchy pop songs. On tracks like "Jogging Gorgeous Summer" and "Rough Gem," their songs are as sunny and carefree as the band's tropical name implies, blending the sounds of dancehall, calypso and bubblegum pop. At other times, Thorburn falls back on his signature Unicorns style: deeply dark lyrics disguised with hum-along hooks and melodies. Reportedly, on this tour the duo — which expands to a sextet live —has been testing out tracks from Sea's May 20 follow-up Arm's Way.
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