Death Vessel, Island Intervals (out now, Sub Pop, subpop.com)
It’s been six years since Death Vessel’s Joel Thibodeau released his last album, 2008’s Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us, and this third release indicates he’s sticking to a formula that worked well the first two times. For Island Intervals, however, the Rhode Island native went international, trading familiar locales for the icy terrain of Reykjavík, where he worked alongside Sigur Rós singer Jónsi and producer Alex Somers. After three months together, the result is an album both mysterious and beautiful. Led by Thibodeau’s waify, androgynous vocals, Intervals begins in a much darker place than one might expect, opening with a sad coo on “Ejecta” that sets the tone for a moody, emotive collection a la The Tallest Man on Earth. Using a variety of unconventional instrumentation (like wind chimes and tribal-infused percussion) the tension builds, hitting an emotional and sonic high just shy of four minutes in. As the album progresses, the mood lightens, shifting completely four songs in with the bouncy, pop-friendly “Mercury Dime.” Album closer “Loom” marks an abrupt 180 spin in Intervals ’ emotive direction—a conclusion that sends shivers down your spine, like the first time that special someone grabs your hand. The whole boomeranging vibe of the album (just eight tracks long) conjures the feeling of what it’s like to be on the shores of Rhode Island—or Reykjavík—in the midst of spring, consumed by a love that’s romantic and messy.