The Mary Onettes: Islands

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The Mary Onettes 

Written By:

Aidan Williamson

05th February 2010
At 13:21 GMT

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Doors remained unlocked, neighbours cheerily espoused greetings and light conversation in the morning, your newly-signed endowment mortgage was looking pretty sweet and no one knew the local priest was part of the Glitterati.

These are the days to which The Mary Onettes seek to cast us back into, the glorious 80s, a time when Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cure, Jesus & Mary Chain and New Order reigned supreme.

After all, the 21st century has already caused the band enough problems. Islands wears the 'uncommon distinction' badge of having to be recorded twice after the album was lost due to a backup hard-drive malfunction at home which neatly coincided with the main device being stolen from his car. You can just assume at this point that a member of the band uttered the words "Well, that albums in the can now, we're going to be mega-stars unless something really bad happens!". Thankfully though, the band saw fit to shrug it off and re-record the entire album. Based on the evidence of what we're hearing, not one iota of love, feeling and genuine enthusiasm was lost to the drudge of having to repeat everything on the second time around, although only the thief will have the evidence to back up that claim.

Not that The Mary Onettes will ever be mega-stars, not that their musical output isn't of the highest quality. It's the fact that their songs are so unashamedly retro which will constrain them to bringing untold joy to a niche market. Unlike say, Interpol, they do not have a modern spin to put on their formula. They truly, unreservedly and steadfastly believe that it's a perfect template: un-needing of contemporary influence. On the evidence of Islands, we're inclined to agree.

It's just a shame that John Hughes is no longer with us, for these tracks would fit perfectly on his ridiculously romantic, yet grounded teen drams. You can just envision "Dare" being channelled through the speakers of an aged 'boom box', held aloft on the lawn of a paramour's house. Once again though, we must go tangential to thank Hawthorne Heights for permanently ruining that moment for us: frickin' Niki FM.

While their is a small amount of slack in the middle of the record, a flaw few bands manage to overcome, for the most part Islands is as solid and assured a second album as one could hope for. The wheel remains the same and yet it continues to turn. To some the throwback nature of the record, especially to an age which few of us lived through, will be a turn-off, but there is still something incredible to be found in their melancholic romanticism.

Rating:  9 / 10

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