Arm's Way

  • Record Label: Anti
  • Release Date: May 20, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. It is a towering, complex achievement and startling progression to boot.
  2. As a fully realized, bombastically confident artistic statement, Arm's Way is Nick Thorburn's "69 Love Songs." Hereafter we will only seek to understand him according to his own pop- and violence-addled logic, mapped perfectly on this thrilling album.
  3. Arm’s Way is an exceptional album in its own right that serves as overwhelmingly convincing evidence that Islands is no one-hit indie-wonder and still has enough talent to get them exactly where they want to go.
  4. Filter
    This is freaky, transcendent stuff. [Spring 2008, p.94]
  5. Arm’s Way represents a step forward from "Return to the Sea" creatively if not as an artistic whole.
  6. This Montreal band's Anti- debut is a far more calculated, robust affair than its first album, 2006's "Return to the Sea."
  7. Arm's Way is a masterful and intricate offering progressing from their debut to create a new vision mixing a banquet of sounds and tempos to create an accomplished peace of musical craftsmanship.
  8. Islands produced an adventurous and daring record with Arm's Way, an adventure many bands are afraid to attempt.
  9. Arm’s Way is a detailed, richly-rewarding album. These are undeniably melodramatic AOR songs--but they’re nuanced in form, graced with melody, and any obvious tropes are usually subverted.
  10. Alternative Press
    This collection comes together in a much more cohesive and fluid sense [than their debut.] [June 2008, p.131]
  11. The title track and opener has a huge sound, but it’s the simple yet infectious guitar riff that keeps it together.
  12. 80
    Whenever it seems that Islands are losing you, Arm’s Way coughs up a moment so beautiful it might make your heart swell and burst into a bloody, disgusting mess.
  13. The Pulp frontman embodies entertainment, presenting pop anthems as masterpieces, and Thorburn pours just such confidence into Arm's Way.
  14. Islands doesn't seem to fully grasp its own strengths yet on Arm's Way. Still, it's better for a band to get lost on its own terms than to stagnate.
  15. A long swim from the mainstream mainland, Islands has made an album that's slow to unravel and difficult to grasp. It's best enjoyed as it was most likely written: in small pieces.
  16. As is typical of Thornburn's music, Arm's Way must be approached with an open mind.
  17. Under The Radar
    By now, Thorburn has established himself as one of indie rock’s most fearlessly imaginative songwriters, so how are we to take Arm’s Way’s appropriation-happy aesthetic? None too seriously, I’d say. [Summer 2008]
  18. Considering at least part of the groups charm was their ability to surprise, there's simply not enough of that here as a whole, and In Arm's Way suffers because of it.
  19. These songs may be less immediately catchy, but all of them have a moment in which they break away from their straightforward guitar-rock underpinning and allow strange, spacious moments to burble up from within.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Aug 17, 2014
    I listen to a lot of music, and this has got to be the most underrated album of the last decade. Where the critics said overstuffed, bloated,I listen to a lot of music, and this has got to be the most underrated album of the last decade. Where the critics said overstuffed, bloated, and overwrought, I say pick one song, any song, and it'll be stuffed with more ambition, skill, and smarts (and stunningly gorgeous lilting melodies that make you wish your heart could just break right there) than anything else I've heard....period. I'm resorting to hyperbole simply because there's no other way to describe this album that so many seem to have missed. It's an artistic triumph that doesn't stop giving. It's an artist working at the absolute peak of his formidable powers, going places I fear he'll never go again. His output since this album has been puzzling at best, and I can't help but think he took the critical response to Arm's Way to heart in a way that's stifled his artistic intuition. It's been six years since its release, and this album could not feel more essential to me. Full Review »