Electronic duo Darkstar have had a fairly quiet couple of years preceding the release of Foam Island and the album marks their move into new territory; in their own words, Foam Island is “something so much bigger than just an LP”.
The minds behind Darkstar, Aiden Whalley and James Young, were inspired to conduct interviews with young people in Huddersfield prior to the recording of the album, in order to both capture and throw light upon the experiences of those growing up in the North. The result is a bold and compelling collection of songs which are fuelled by the hopes, dreams and worries of young people today. Aiden’s haunting vocals provide an apt backdrop for telling these young people’s stories, entwined throughout the album with audio of the interviews themselves.
The soothing beat of ‘Cuts’ contrasts against the monotone voice delivering figures about different government cuts; the music forms a backdrop and space for the listener to both comprehend and appreciate the ideas that the song is looking to deliver. ‘Through the Motions’ is one of the more poppy and upbeat songs on the album, which provides a welcome diversity to the sound on Foam Island. The pan flute throughout ‘Javan’s Call’ creates a sombre feel to the song and ‘Tilly’s Theme’ establishes an equally dark mood through the use of strings. Again highlighting the diversity of the sound on this album, ‘Days Burn Blue’ has almost an Arabian feel to it with its upbeat and colourful vibe.
Foam Island is an ambitious collection of songs, which wants to do more than just entertain. It wants to provide a soundtrack to an important message about the experiences of those who would not normally have a platform to share their thoughts; an admirable endeavour on the part of Darkstar.