Album Review: Whales’ Island – “Not A Dream, But Never The End”

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“Not A Dream, But Never The End” is the debut Indelirium Records release from Italian rockers Whales’ Island. The quintet, based in Palermo, Sicily, Whales’ Island dub themselves “a melodic band, a little bit hardcore, a little bit punk, a little bit indie rock,” and cite Set Your Goals and Polar Bear Club as influences. Upon first listen, their description is right on the money.

The album starts with the feedback-heavy intro of “We Are Alone,” which turns itself into a damn fine song, complete with some of the greater guitar hooks I’ve heard in a while from a young “punk” band. The chant of “we are…we are” sounds oddly nu-metal, and a tad out of place. Lead singer, Turixxx (yes, that’s his name), has a very distinct, gravely voice that reminds the listener (or at least reminds me) of a young, Italian Bruce Dickinson or Ian Astbury. At first, it was pretty cool, but it ended up grating on me after a while.

“I Can’t Walk Again” follows the opener, and leads into the Pulley-esque title track, “Whales.” Pretty solid hardcore inspired punk tune. “Sorry” is much in the same vein, though it features a hip-hop style outro that seems out of place. “Identity” begins with a solid bass groove (I’m a sucker for a bass intro), and features a sound bite of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (a la Living Colour) for some reason.

“Time Flies” is perhaps the best tune musically on the album, and while a tad corny, the “time flies” line in the chorus seems to work. Sloppy outro, though. “Values” is another tune that is solid in its indie/hardcore style, though I think some of the lyrics got lost in translation (something about looking for “a breath of sound to explain what I feel”) amid the sloppy chorus. Album closer “Breathing…Running” is the requisite acoustic tune that young bands seem compelled to write, for whatever reason. Doesn’t fit the rest of the album, though the song is okay-crafted and thus the album doesn’t particularly suffer from its presence.

As stated above, a couple of the tunes get a little muddy at times, and Turixxx’s voice does become  a little irritating, though it almost left me wondering what the album would have sounded like if the tunes were sung in Italian rather than in English, as I couldn’t really make sense of the message the boys were trying to relay. “Not A Dream, But Never The End” does feature some of the cooler cover art I’ve seen in a while, and is a solid debut release that does a decent enough job of putting the band’s own spin on their highlighted hardcore, skate punk, indie rock influences.

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