Island Family is the fifth album from Isle-of-Eigg dwelling electro-acoustic psych-pop wonder Pictish Trail, AKA Johnny Lynch. A strange, unpredictable, sardonic and yet deeply personal record inspired by all from Fever Ray to The Flaming Lips, Liars, Mercury Rev and Beck, Island Family is Pictish Trail’s contrarian view of arcadia; a search for the euphoric in the bucolic, bound up in sometimes conflicting ideas and feelings around nature and environment, sincerity and artifice, escapism and belonging. It’s an album about how no man can remain an island, however hard he might try.
Released by Fire Records, with support from Johnny’s own label Lost Map, and produced by long-term collaborator Rob Jones (The Voluntary Butler Scheme, The Gene Dudley Group), ‘Island Family’ opens with its title track, a song of death, ghosts and the ties that bind, fusing abrasive electronic beats with a tongue-in-cheek fireside folk refrain and the haunted ice cream van melody of a digitally reincarnated traditional Scottish jig. A purgative surrender to nature’s whim driven by a clattering machine drumbeat rolled in a puddle of filthy dirty fuzz, ‘Natural Successor’ is five-and-a-half-minutes of cathartic churning bass.
‘In The Land of The Dead’ is an eight-bit glitch-core reflection on island party excesses spasming into existential dread and regret, suitably accompanied by a funereal mariachi band. It’s followed by the epic ‘It Came Back’, the understated verses and arms-aloft falsetto chorus of which are accompanied by a tense, foreboding bass-driven electro hip hop instrumental with (spoiler) a brain- shattering industrial-metal meltdown. ’Melody Something’ is the album’s purest moment, a cautiously uplifting solar-powered-ballad about losing track of time in the cycle of the seasons, and the gap between memory and reality. Shapeshifting closer ‘Remote Control’ is a channel hopping cabin-fever-dream flipping from warped boyband ballad to deep-fried fuzz pop.