German singer and multi-instrumentalist Boris Rogowski is The Society Islands, a solo project that successfully touches upon several styles and reference points — from Beach House’s dream-pop to Gorillaz’ electro-pop exploration and Grizzly Bear’s haunting indie-folk. With a voice reminiscent of Damon Albarn’s comforting tranquility, Rogowski also handles guitars, bass, keys, woodwinds, percussion, and drums – in addition to the affecting vocals – on his new album The Big Sleep, which is heavy on strong songwriting and stirring atmospherics throughout.
A great example of The Society Islands’ unique grasp of atmosphere – and the ability to juggle that with pop-minded hooks – is the track “Archer”. The effort’s backbone floats on an ethereal organ progression that floats in a dream-like state, extremely reminiscent of Beach House. Thanks to the patient structure and backing melodic vocal samples, there is also a tidily infectious electro-pop feel reminiscent of the two Gorillaz/Little Dragon collaborations on Plastic Beach. The build-up to the “let go” hook around 02:47 is particularly powerful, as is the subdued final minute, where twangy guitars and backing vocal flourishes reinforce the gorgeous lead melody one more time.
“Archer” is just one of several gems on The Big Sleep, which is recommended and can be streamed in full below. It’s ironic that the album’s conceptual theme is living in a monochromatic world, as the release is full of colorful and sweeping melodies: