Foam Island is a woozy place; a place where beats, floating soundscapes and passages of simple speech converge. Darkstar’s third album is interspersed with clips of the voices of young northerners, vignettes of interviews describing their lives and their hopes. These slot in amongst the band’s usual slices of light-touch electronica, providing texture and colour to an album which might otherwise have been rather straightforward. Amongst these, ‘Cuts’ is overtly political, a spoken word exposition of savage austerity measures. But it’s not all about the message. ‘Pin Secure’ is a spacey, sparse, floaty and melodic mini-epic, while the album’s title track feels lightly soulful.

It’s when Darkstar depart from their musical template that things begin to get a lot more interesting, though – witness the orchestral swathes and hesitant, fragile outlook of ‘Tilly’s Theme’, while another twist comes in the divergent beats and unusual instrumentation of album closer ‘Days Burn Blue’. Still, for the most part ‘Foam Island’ floats along inconsequentially, almost incidentally. It’s highly crafted, but at times un-engaging.


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