Scotland seems to be a breeding ground for talented alternative rock bands, spawning the likes of Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbits and Twin Atlantic. With this in mind, the Scottish music scene has birthed another fantastic gem in the form of Fatherson. I Am an Island is their debut album. The album took a grand total of 18 days to record with Bruce Rintoul at the helm of production duties. Despite this rapid recording, the album possesses a polished sheen with all the tracks being recorded live in the studio and often in one take. This is hard to believe as I Am an Island sounds flawless.
Fatherson straddles the gap between being an indie version of Biffy Clyro and a more hard-hitting version of Frightened Rabbits. Ross Leighton’s compelling and yearning vocals take on a beautiful and emotional quality when combined with his Scottish accent. These vocals are coupled with energetic instrumentals which result in some of the finest alternative rock anthems I have ever heard.
The opening track “An Island” sets the tone for the rest of the album. It starts as being a gentle and soothing song before launching into a crescendo of drums and guitar while Leighton’s voice comes piercing through. It is an alternative rock anthem at heart and would be the perfect song to perform live as one can just imagine the crowd chanting the lyrics, “I am an island.” The lyrics establish the album’s main theme, which revolves around the feeling of isolation.
I Am an Island is filled with energetic alternative rock anthems. Songs like “Hometown” and “I Like Not Knowing” are prime examples. These tracks follow each other and thus maintain an energetic high, which is punctuated by the softer “Cat Stevens”. The track has a climatic burst of energy which then peters out in the anthemic “Lights”, a song that manages to find a balance between being hauntingly beautiful and having a frantic sense of urgency.
“Half the Things” represents a transition from energy-filled songs to softer and less frantic ones. The album now enters a softer section which showcases the band’s ability to write slow songs. It also gives Leighton’s vocals a platform to truly excel as the focus is now more on his voice and songwriting. “Dust” is a prime example of this, as his vocals are accompanied by the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. “James” is one of the strongest songs on the album and displays the band truly coming into their element. It is filled with haunting melodies, crashing drums, frantic guitar riffs and piercing vocals. The lyrics showcase Fatherson’s humble nature with lines like, “So go home/Sober up/take the weight off your feet and just chill.”
“Kiteers” and ‘Foreign Waters” bring up the rear of the album. They’re slow and soft indie rock songs imbued with haunting melodies. In the current day and age, hidden tracks are often frowned upon but “I Am” proves that they are a must. It is well worth the few minutes of silence before having this beautiful song caress your ear canal.
Scotland, you have done well. Fatherson is a tremendous band that has produced a fantastic debut album. They manage to bridge the gap between Biffy Clyro , Frightened Rabbits and Twin Atlantic. They’re busy turning heads in the Scottish music scene and with this album, they are bound to soon turn heads all over the world. I Am an Island is a staple album for anybody who loves alternative rock and sing-along rock anthems.