Islands & Islands

Misfit Mod

Stars & Letters Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The moniker of London by way of New Zealand's Sarah Ann Kelleher, Misfit Mod reveals that there's little doubt she's spent sometime listening to Portishead. Taking a similar art-influenced and often bleak route, her chilling beats and vocals that aren't far from trance-like put her in a league with the most compelling DIY synth pop artists right now. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While often haunting due to the echoed vocals, there are still plenty of tuneful pop moments to be found here. “Ghost Me,” one of the most interesting tracks here, isn't really one of those moments, instead matching a breathy voice with hypnotic beats. Elsewhere Kelleher gets a tad more accessible with a solid hook on “First Aid,” followed by fluttering keys. While her vocals are the main focus throughout, with “Valleys,” she's muted before working her way into louder singing. This is the strongest tune here, the most glorious and full sounding of the bunch. On “Cars(I),” the spotlight shifts toward the percussion, and the surreal atmospheres shine through in “Queen Love Zero” where the loops surround the playful lyrics. While the production here is extremely crisp all the way through, especially on the fuzzy, '80s-esque “Pool House,” the closing track “Free City” has a more back-to-basics approach. It succeeds in being a prime example of minimalism at its finest.

Kelleher spent many years in multiple countries fine-tuning Islands & Islands. Though the music, melodies, and lyrics were all penned at different times in her sometimes gypsy style life, the songs sound neither disjointed nor do they appear to have been haphazardly strewn together. On the contrary, Islands & Islands comes off as a very calculated, sharp, and cohesive experiment of downbeat electronica and moody soundscapes. Misfit Mod would make good company with modern day stars like Zola Jesus, Purity Ring, or even more recent Radiohead/Thom Yorke songs.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Stars & Letters Records, and is used for informational purposes only.