Vapours is a fitting title for the newest Islands record — unlike the heavily arranged, overwrought Arm’s Way, here Nick Thorburn leads a stripped-down lineup (including original Unicorn/Island Jamie Thompson) through a set of synth-pop that’s essentially weightless, almost to a fault. Thorburn’s neutral tenor and ironic delivery naturally keep listeners at a distance, and the mostly electronic beats make him sound even more emotionless — he even gets Auto-Tuned on the grating “Heartbeat.” (Insert Kanye West “I’m a let you finish” joke here.) It’s not Thorburn’s only shout-out to hip-hop: “Switch On” borrows the hook from Young Jeezy’s “Put On” for its chorus, with mixed results. In the win column: “No You Don’t” spins darkly clever lyrics over a solid groove, and album highlight “Vapours” shimmies against blaring horn riffs and will no doubt become a live staple. The rest of Vapours rolls by like a haze, only occasionally crystallizing into something memorable.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.