Top critical review
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on 17 June 2014
The quality of King Crimson albums had been steadily declining after the wonderful debut, 'In The Court Of The Crimson King', thanks in no small part to the endless comings and goings of band members. The previous album 'Lizard' was excellent from a musical perspective, but it was seriously let down by some awfully lacklustre vocal displays from Gordon Haskell. Thankfully, Haskell doesn't feature on 'Islands', but it's still an album that comes up a bit short as far as I'm concerned.
On the plus side, Boz Burrell's vocal performances are decent and his bass-playing is fluid. 'Formentera Lady' is a dreamy, smooth, laid back opener, built around Burrell's simple, throbbing bass mantra. It gets a bit repetitive after a while and does outstay its welcome a bit by the end, but it makes for a refreshing change as far as Crimson album openers go.
'Sailor's Tale' is an enjoyable free-formesque instrumental track, featuring some intense guitar shredding by Robert Fripp, 'Ladies Of The Road' is a slightly tongue in cheek ode to groupies and 'Prelude: Song Of The Gulls' in a nice piece of classically inspired music.
As an album, 'Islands' flows better than any of its predecessors and the overall 'chilled-out' feel to the album is quite welcome. However, the problem with 'Islands' (in my opinion) is that there are just no 'belters' on it. At times, I even find it slightly boring. For many people, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson included, this album is a highlight of Crimson's back catalogue, so to each their own and all that, but lyrically and musically, 'Islands' just doesn't excite me, in fact, it leaves me cold. The cover artwork is also uninspired, which pretty much sums up my feelings about this one sadly.