Soundscape – A Music Review
Joff Alexander-Frye – Grow’s Music Editor – launches a music review feature, Soundscape, and wraps his ears around the debut album from local artist 91islands.
I love how, when you listen to a new artist for the first time, you can hear the other bands and musicians who they have drawn influence from in their musical journey up to that point. This was certainly the case when I wrapped my ears around the fantastic debut album from local artist 91islands (otherwise known as David Clement, frontman of local rock legends Eventine) recently.
And let me be clear, there is absolutely no shame in artists drawing influence from others! There seems to me to be a falsehood which is perpetuated amongst creative circles that everything has to be original. I, for one though, believe that there isn’t really much that is new under the sun. We can’t help but be inspired, challenged and influenced by the world around us and the efforts that other creatives make to capture and make sense of it all.
More so than with most artists though, I was astounded at how many influences I could hear throughout this 11-track offering by 91islands. From Bruno Mars to Bon Iver, Jason Mraz to The Night Game and Fleet Foxes to moments of the softer side of Killswitch Engage. This album is really varied and, as such, makes for a really enjoyable listen.
It definitely has a strong 80s-influence with rich layered harmonies throughout, crisp guitar lines and a sound-palette that is dripping with synth. Everything that is good about the neo-80s revival and a proper dream-pop soundscape to get lost in for an hour or so. The album itself was recorded and co-produced with Josiah J Manning, Owner and Lead Engineer at Momentum Studios in Plymouth.
Another standout production value throughout the album is how ‘front-and-centre’ the vocals are. With an impressive vocal range that reaches from rich deeper tones all the way up to higher octaves which most men would deem unattainable, Dave’s vocals are definitely the ‘feature wall’ which pops out from the well-balanced underlying production.
I asked David what it meant to him to create his first full-length album. He commented, “This is a labour of love for me. I’m so happy with the achievement of getting this album finished, as well as all the subsequent little wins like creating home-made music videos and creating new content. Music is so personal to me and anyone who creates it. All I wish is for any listeners out there to feel something from some of my songs. After all, music to me is all about expressing yourself and taking a snapshot of a moment in time. I hope it can resonate with others.”
He continued, “There are so many people to thank for making this album a reality. I have personally given it my all, but it couldn’t have happened without my wife Fay, producer Josiah and a variety of other creatives who contributed to the album, such as the band members of Eventine, and Ross Becker who I worked with on the cover art too!”
Highlights from the album for me included dream-pop-banger ‘Amelia Earhart’, power-rock-ballad ‘Starting a Fire’ and the soulful ‘Nervous’.
This impressive initial offering from 91islands can be bought on CD on Bandcamp or streamed on Spotify now. Enjoy!
Review written by Joff Alexander-Frye, Music Editor of Grow Magazine