Stripping away the self-conscious eccentricities that occasionally marred his prior outings under the Islands moniker, A Sleep & a Forgetting finds sole Islands constant Nick Thorburn favoring directness both melodically and lyrically. Working with Rob Schnapf, the same producer who helmed some of Elliott Smith's finest records, A Sleep sounds a bit like XO's equally heartsick cousin, packing in 11 self-described "doom-wop" indie-pop numbers, built with forcefully plunked pianos and swooning strings, into 37 minutes. Inspired by a particularly bitter breakup, the album's lyrical content is as prickly as its sounds are smooth, with Thorburn favoring a no-frills take on his trials and tribulations. "I Can't Feel My Face" sports some of the darkest opening lines in the whole mope-pop canon ("I miss my wife/I miss my best friend, every night/I miss my home, my own bed, and my old life"). Wallowing in misery has rarely sounded so sublime. With Idiot Glee. 18+. (Photo by Liam Maloney)
Fri., March 2, 10:30 p.m., 2012

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