The Waiting Game is exactly that—a three-song teaser while we wait for No Island to release their first full-length album later this year. This is the second EP by the jazz-rock quintet out of Vancouver, and it builds on their already polished sound.
The band’s homepage bio emphasizes their post-secondary musical education—a hint as to how the band manages to craft such professional-sounding jazz. The combo with rock is inspired by bands like Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, and Queen; bands that already knew how to break out of the three-instrument shell. Boasting of two vocalists, keyboards, and my personal favourite, a saxophone, No Island is shaking up the typical indie sound by not only adding instruments, but playing with genres.
Opener “Reason” immediately struck me by its rarely heard combination of rock and jazz—a momentary pause in the brain while I grew accustomed to the fusion. It smashes together the bouncy feel of an upbeat Supertramp song, the suaveness of classical jazz, and the breathy lyrics of modern rock. Lines like “Reason counts for nothing/Everything is a joke” are thrown out almost flippantly in a subversive pattern that mirrors the music—fun, and yet obviously the result of a lot of work.
“House of Cards” feels almost like a throwback to the Vegas pop punk bands of the 2000s. The vocals are almost reminiscent of Patrick Stump from the later FOB albums, while the music sounds like an up-tempo minimalist cabaret performance.
The final track of the threesome, “The Waiting Game” feels like another throwback to the 70s, but much more jazzy than “Reason”. The vocals emphasize No Island’s rock influences, but the instrumentals and especially the saxophone show off the bands formal education.
No Island offers up yet another polished EP of their modern jazz-rock fusion. As stated in a previous Grayowl review, the band could relax a little to really tap into an old-school jazz feel, but since their’s is a mix few others are trying to do these days, the rules are all up to them.
Top Track: “House of Cards”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)