This week, we’re being transported somewhere much less physical and very much more a fantasyland, as Rival Island’s new EP Year of the Butterfly lands with uncharted dream-pop destinations in sight. This six-track effort is a remarkable piece of music that evolves their sound from the retro swirl of their recent origins to a more refined guitar-pop sound, elevating the band’s aural game to a place alongside your favorite Real Estate and Local Natives records.
The highlight of Year of the Butterfly is the melancholic “Steel Tide,” a true Song of the Year contender that lifts and pulls with such urgent precision, it could be among the sharpest songwriting to come out of Massachusetts in a hot minute. The guitar tone alone is something of a wonder, and it warrants repeated listens to absorb everything going on just beneath the surface.
Rival Island admit this new release — self produced by the band, mixed by bassist Michael Swanson, and mastered at Salem’s Godcity Studios — is “a departure away from the stripped down songs off of [previous record] Heroes and Villains and a move into more complex material and sounds… a true reflection of our need to always progress and venture into new territory.”
It’s an impressive lift for Rival Island; a band that’s built a name for itself on the fringes of whatever we’re calling a music scene these days, and continues a narrative of a project so comfortable in its own creative skin, it’s seemingly unafraid to take songwriting risks.