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inisolation shards
Artist: In Isolation
Title: Shards
Genre: New Wave / Post Punk
Release Date: 10th October 2020
Label: Aye Aye Records

Album Review

Nottingham four-piece IN ISOLATION have achieved the seemingly impossible, and released a shimmering set of exuberant and (largely) optimistic Pop gems in a year of pestilence and plague designed to test the most upbeat and cheerful. They’re the meme that says “Yeh, but what if…”, and that makes them a far more interesting and endearing proposition than many of their contemporaries, who often churn out those eighties influences and regale us with their modern-day aspirations and credentials, while falling flat or flatulent by not achieving either.

On new album ‘Shards’, the somewhat leisurely timetabled follow-up to the 2016 release ‘A Certain Fractal Light’, the band tackle a number of quirky subjects with a light touch of absolute confidence. That vocalist Ryan Swift has gone and fallen in love of all things is apparent too, but don’t let that put you off. There’s enough darkness running through the songs on offer here to balance out any outright rejection of the glorious pessimistic. Opener ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’ is an irresistible ear-worm with a huge chorus, bounding around with justified sincerity and sounding like a lost classic from a not-too-distant past. Tackling diplomatic poisoning - as you do - on ‘Russian Doll’, this is a twisting, wriggling darkly intriguing song with nicely gothic guitars and a sense of creeping menace. And on ‘Infinite’ it’s not difficult to imagine the band saying “Virus? What virus?” Some nice guitar work here as well.

If you’re going to do a cover version, there’s nothing worse than an obvious one. Or one that’s too close to the original. So IN ISOLATION have chosen that untouchable Gothier-than-thou classic ‘She’s In Parties’ by Northampton bat-botherers BAUHAUS. At least it says so here. Wonderfully peculiar, and almost completely re-written to suit their individual style, this is a meaty and dramatic effort that the band no doubt had a lot of fun re-creating. And on the subject of oddness - imagine writing a space anthem to a planetary system, then being invited to talk about it at a conference of astrophysicists in Belgium, AND then having top members of NASA to exclaim they are “thrilled by IN ISOLATION’s anthem”. All achieved on the wonderful ‘TRAPPIST-1 (A Space Anthem)’. Hugely geeky of course, but how wonderfully cool at the same time.

Throw in some gentle melancholy on ‘Loving The Ghost’, hand-clapping pop bounce on ‘Estrangement’ and round things off with the pounding optimism of ‘Until The Next Show’, and try not feeling hopeful, even if it’s not clear what that hopefulness is all about just yet. Despite influences firmly rooted in the Eighties, this feels like a very contemporary album. Complex yet simple, joyful yet dark, in a sense it could only have ever been written and released in a year that in itself is so full of contradictions and juxtapositions. They might have the most appropriate band name possible for 2020, but this is a sharing record, and instead of sinking in lonely introspection, it bursts instead with warmth and humanity. And that’s just what is needed right now.


01. The Man Who Hides From Love
02. Russian Doll
03. Infinite
04. Loving The Ghost
05. Estrangement
06. She’s In Parties
07. TRAPPIST-1 (A Space Anthem)
08. Until The Next Show


Ryan Swift – Vocals, guitar, bass, synths, percussion, orchestral arrangements
John Berry – Guitar, bass, synths
Tony Ghost – Drums
Mike Sinclair – Bass

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Cover Picture

inisolation shards


Music: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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