This is not a review. It’s the old cliché: What came first, the doom wop or the doom pop? No matter, Nick Thorburn appears to be a Forefather of both with his stints in Mister Heavenly and Islands. If he wasn’t before, Canadian transplant Thorburn is now the George Washington of the genres after Island’s latest A Sleep & A Feeling.
In this time of seasonal affective disorder, A Sleep might paralyze waking routines with its sepulchral tone. Thorburn, the man who once sang “I was born a unicorn”, brings a new level of sincerity as he tackles loss that reads like a series of diary entries. On “Same Thing”, Thorburn sings “I can’t wait to see, what becomes of me, the ease with which I sleep, tends to frighten me.”
Thorburn has stated that he wrote A Sleep after the end of a relationship and that the writing experience, which began on Valentine’s Day, was a cathartic one. Islands’ sincerity can also found on A Sleep’s simpler musical arrangements that never become too complicated or over produced. “Oh Maria", starts and finishes with Thorburn’s voice and guitar and stops along the way only to pick up a piano and guitar. On "This Is Not A Song", the stripped down drum beat, piano/organ, and guitar don’t compete with each other.
Thorburn is more confident in his craft which is evident in his back to basics approach. Thorburn’s candor does not mean he has lost any of his trademark catchifisity (prolific catchiness). For Canadian born Thorburn, A Sleep & A Feeling comes out between Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays, which is fitting because it might be Island’s Jay Treaty or even Emancipation Proclamation.