For UK alternative four-piece ISLAND, their time to make waves with the best of them in indie rock is very, very close. ISLAND consists of Rollo Doherty leading the charge on vocals, Jack Raeder supplying the shimmering guitars, James Wolfe adding to the melodic vibes on bass, and Toby Richards in control of the subtle, but effective drums. With heavy hearts, conflicted mindsets, and burden souls, the young troupe attempts to find the solace within the melancholy laces of their debut record. ISLAND may not be reinventing the notions of tapping into their pain and creating beautiful music as their remedy for it. However, their 11-track LP flows mostly with intricate splendor all while seamlessly uplifting the spirit when feeling weary, wounded, or on the verge of breaking away.

ISLAND has been hailed as genre-melding, but the band is at their finest when they just slow things down. Doherty’s aching vocals and deep fortitude spark the right feelings for anyone taking Feels Like Air for a proper spin. The vocals wouldn’t shine as luminously as they do if it weren’t for the guitar-inflected, rhythmically moving arrangements. Musically visceral, the album captures the listener and rarely loosens its grip on them. The band has released four singles up until this release—‘Try’ and ‘The Day I Die’ in 2017 with ‘Ride’ and most recently ‘Horizon’ debuting earlier this year. In what has become tradition for ISLAND, the singles feature croaky vocals and moody guitars creating edge and melancholy on the same ticket.

Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, ‘Try’ starts out in a fragile state. In time it finds a way with its mournfully churning guitars and yearning vocals to develop into something that’s awe-inspiring to behold. On paper, the lyrics, “Oh, I found a new way / To die/ It's hidden in your tear stained eyes” may seem maudlin, but somehow Doherty conveys it with great command, pensiveness, and understanding. ‘Ride’ is another one following suit with its contemplative undertone and laidback vibes. It also dives into the ideology of being young and free, with all the wonder and adventure that comes with the territory. Even the band’s ‘Interlude’ number holds significant weight, with its peaceful two-minute-plus instrumental structure and lyrics coming in gracefully toward the end.

As the listener journeys through this record, they may not feel as if there are many surprises at every turn. On the contrary, Feels Like Air remains consistent, cohesive, and utterly emotive throughout its stages. Highlights include ‘Moth’, a sweeping, dreamy, and poignant track that’s quite special on both the surface and tucked away underneath. The anthemic track is one of the standout songs. The other high point is ‘We Can Go Anywhere’, a six-minute endeavor enticing the listener with its beauty and deep reflection every step of the way. ‘We Can Go Anywhere’ is the glue that holds this record together strongly and assuredly. It’s powerful, multi-layered, and emotionally elevating beyond comprehension.

‘God Forgive’, ‘Feels Like Air’, and ‘Lily Flower’ wrap the record up kindly, if not a bit conventionally. ISLAND keeps in the direction of similar sonic tones and themes with these songs as they did with the ones prior. The closing track, ‘Lily Flower’, does offer something a bit diverse because it’s an acoustic track. With Doherty’s vocals tenderly and wistfully singing the words, you can’t help but to become enamored by the stripped down yet affecting effort. Feels Like Air stands as 44 minutes in length and with much emotional heft attached to it, it balances itself on an emotional tightrope. The record weaves between songs that are road trip ready while contemplating the movements within your life and songs about dreaming about the one you love in the comfort of your own bedroom. No matter where you’re headed, ISLAND can set the mood.