Released April 21, 2015
By Graham White
The album kicks off with a spine-tingling vocal harmony on First To Forget. The sound expresses a light hearted sense of nostalgia, immediately making No Island's sound stand out. It feels like a throwback to an earlier time in music, in the best way. There is a great deal of musicianship in the track, with many layers of sound and beautiful harmonies that proves that the sum is greater than the individual parts.
Second Spin follows with a folksier tone and wonderfully rhythmic piano. With a vocal quality that has qualities of David Bowie crossed with Billy Joel, saxophone rips into the tune and shocks the listener into a magnificent groove - if but for a second. Held You Up has a heavier tone that is closely related to rock and roll greats like Queen. A very funky tune, it is dynamic and danceable while maintaining that rock and roll attitude. City of Strangers starts off with the piano you'll have grown to love so much already, and breaks into a groove with saxophone that is reminiscent of that 1980’s soft rock tone. Soulful vocality combined with this radical groove make for a track that could please rockers and jazz lovers alike.
Where We Left It follows and shows that No Island is not afraid to write some jazzy ballads. The piano really comes into it’s own here, forming the backbone of the track. Raging blues guitar solos overtop, contrasting and complementing the vocals wonderfully. Long Road - Intro proves that it is not just the pianist who can play jazz. An absolutely beautiful guitar opens, full of space and harmonies. Long Road breaks into the funky bass, creating an environment in which the saxophone can really come alive. The saxophone truly adds a layer to the tone that is unmistakably groovy and full of energy. Drum fills over a jumping funk guitar breakdown brings the listener in close so that their eardrums can be overwrought with a striking guitar solo that brings the tune to a close.
Bad For Business keeps the funky groove of the later half of the album going, with lyrics that paint an evocative picture. This is one song that I would love to hear live, as even in the recording I can hear the energy and stage presence this group of frontmen must have seeping out of every pore. Better Days, the album’s title track, employs wonderful voicing between vocals and saxophone as well as remarkable synergy in the rhythm section. Tight, sharp guitar chords pop, making for a dynamic track to listen to that is both reminiscent of another time in music and fresh off the press in the 21st century.
Encore ends the album with another foray into ballad territory. Slightly raspy vocals give it a soulfulness that is compounded by the saxophone’s noodling and the truthfulness of the lyrics. Honest and fulfilling, it is an end to a time-machine of an album, and it sticks with you long after the track has quietened. The rest of the tracks, you'll just have to check out yourself!
An album that keeps playing in your mind, with a message that is clearly “The Best is Yet to Come”, we can only look forward to future No Island releases!