Whales'Island - Not a Dream, But Never the End (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Not a Dream, But Never the End (2010)


The first time I popped Whales'Island's Not a Dream, But Never the End into the CD player, I was convinced the singer of melodic hardcore act Death Is Not Glamorous had a new band. These two respective frontmen just sound that similar. As it turns out, they're not even from the same country–DING hail from Norway, and Whales'Island from Italy. However, Whales'Island do call Death Is Not Glamorous a primary influence, as they do Polar Bear Club. And, yeah, as musical inspirations go, you can't get much more modern than that (with PBC, I'm thinking post-The Redder, The Better-era, even). And yet, Whales'Island combine these melodic hardcore, pop-punk and post-hardcore influences on Not a Dream, But Never the End into a surprisingly well-done, confidently played and enjoyable full-length.

The popcore growl in opener "We Are Alone" is questionable, but otherwise, it's a solid intro. It transitions into the much more anxious "I Can Walk Again", which reminds me momentarily of the emotional urgency in Attack in Black's "Marriage". It's a pretty great, chugging, melodic rock/punk number with a chilling little buildup and a lot of heartbreaking desperation to it. The lyrics can be sketchy ("So you need strength, / you need soul, / you need feelings, / you need goodness. / Searching for heart... / love..."), but they're heartfelt, and leeway can be offered given that English probably isn't these guys' first language.

Admittedly, those are some of the album's better moments (coming a little early), but Never the End continues with a fairly thorough display of melodic punk rock prowess. The band clearly have a firm grip on thoughtful dynamics, keeping the wildly raspy vocals but incorporating plenty of other changes, from the double-time on "From the Start Till the End" and "Sorry I'm Not So Famous...Like You" (which even has a random old-school hip-hop outro) to the rock riff-infused centerpiece "Whales" (Foo Fighters get a mention in their influence list, too; here's where it's most prominent, probably). The joyous and dynamic vibe on "Identity" is a thrilling latecomer, while their pedals get a little more love on the temporarily languid "Time Flies" (not a Gorilla Biscuits cover, but it's got the catchy repetition for sure). Closer "Breathing...Running" is helped by a layered acoustic strum, and I definitely detect some Jimmy Stadt in there.

Not a Dream, But Never the End might be a little heavy on the better sounds of the mid-to-late 2000s, but if you can appreciate a smartly played interpretation of 'em, it's hard go to wrong with this LP from Whales'Island.

I Can Walk Again
From the Start Till the End
Sorry I'm Not So Famous...Like You