Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 0 out of 14
Buy On
  1. Jan 22, 2021
    Not everything on Isles is a win—"Rever" and "Fir" dial the neon palette up a notch too high—but overall the album nails the tricky balance artists face when following a successful debut: similar enough to charm the old fans yet fresh enough to entice the new.
  2. 80
    Isles invites you to close your eyes and let your alpha waves throw their own shapes.
  3. 80
    As they prove across ‘Isles’’ 10 intricately-crafted tracks (which were whittled down from more than 150 demos), few other artists can conjure up these much-missed moments of patiently rapturous rave ecstasy quite so artfully.
  4. Jan 21, 2021
    Bicep pull it off with considerable aplomb. Isles’s melodies are lush or wistfully melancholic, but the beats are too tough and driving for its contents to be mistaken for something you’d play at a dinner party.
  5. Jan 21, 2021
    Never overstaying its welcome, and always intriguingly structured, the lights might have come up, but the Belfast duo want to remind us that the memories and communities aren’t going anywhere.
  6. Jan 20, 2021
    The layered and intricate soundscapes that embody Isles are testament to the vast and diverse musical influences that Ferguson and McBriar have explored and savoured over the years. Bittersweet and introspective, yet hopeful and spellbinding.
  7. Mojo
    Jan 19, 2021
    This is music for smarter dancefloors. [Mar 2021, p.89]
  8. Jan 19, 2021
    It’s a brilliant pick me up, a dazzling set of songs that tap into our innermost impulses. A colourful way to remember those good times, and one that is perfectly prepared for our eventual return to the dance floor.
  9. Jan 19, 2021
    The album's theme of discovery and belonging is clear and poignant throughout and adds an extra dimension to critical listening of many of the tracks. The album does tire a little towards the end, and similar ideas and developments are revisited a little too quickly. Still, overall, Bicep have crafted a very exciting record worthy of high praise.
  10. Jan 26, 2021
    Isles is a headphones record as colourful as its artwork, and should be enjoyed to the fullest on its own terms, the work of an act in constant flux who refuse to rest on their laurels.
  11. Jan 21, 2021
    Apart from the foggy, piano-driven beatless interlude "Lido," the tracks pretty much remain in Bicep's familiar club-tooled mode, and while it can seem a bit formulaic over the course of an album, their consistency largely works to their benefit, and Isles sports several undeniable highlights.
  12. Uncut
    Jan 19, 2021
    This handsome sequel stays mostly within their comfort zone of melodic, propulsive dance-pop tailored both to clubs and home listening, an impressive balancing act even if the formula sometimes feels over-polished. [Feb 2021, p.25]
  13. Jan 19, 2021
    The formula certainly has its merits though, and Bicep bring them to the fore better than most on Isles, and all with an appealingly late-night, cosmopolitan flair, where ghostly fragments of Hindi, Turkish pop or Bulgarian choirs are just as likely to hover among the neon synths as the usual breathy trance sirens. It gives the album a bustling, urban energy that very much works in its favour, even if its style might slightly outweigh its substance sometimes.
  14. Jan 22, 2021
    Isles has sparkling moments but it’s all a bit constrained, like a potted plant on a window sill that craves the natural wildness of a garden.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Jan 24, 2021
    The UK-based electronic duo Bicep released their second LP called Isles. It begins with “Atlas” a track that woke my memory of those euphoricThe UK-based electronic duo Bicep released their second LP called Isles. It begins with “Atlas” a track that woke my memory of those euphoric moments attending music festivals before the pandemic that reminds me of those energies and blissful experiences listening to live electronic acts. The fading airy sample vocals of Ofra Haza in this track added to this very atmospheric mood. I enjoyed those lo-fi sampling used in Cazenove. However, in totality, I felt like it went flat. While "Apricot" surprised me with glorious samples of sounds and styles of "Gebede-Gebede Ulendo Wasabwera" from Hugh Tracey's record Beating Heart - Malawi, and Svatba (The Wedding). The duo paid homage to Celtic folk they grow up listening to and shows their modern and refreshing take of these sounds. While tracks “Saku” and “X” totally put you in a trance, featuring the sweet vocals of the UK-based DJ/producer Clara La San immersing myself in Bicep’s trippy vibe. This mood continues in the track “Rever” featuring Bali instrumentation from Canadian cellist/composer Julia Kent contrasting the hashed vocals featured towards the latter part of the track. "Sundial" is a gripping track pulling samples from a Bollywood song and gave me the same multicultural sound experience in Apricots. I enjoyed the last track, "Hawk", featuring Korean Tokyo-based artist Machina. According to the duo, this track was resulted from their various experimentation using a Japanese synth, creating super weird noises.

    Isles is a trippy electronic album that you can binge on, possessing the qualities of good ambient music you can use as an escape and immerse yourself in euphoria. However, I feel like Bicep can explore more on their experimentation in appealing tracks like Apricots and Hawk and build on this strength. I am giving this my rating of 7/10.
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