The Island of Misfit Toys - I Made You Something (Cover Artwork)

The Island of Misfit Toys

I Made You Something (2015)


With as many members as Arcade Fire and Slipknot, it’s surprising that The Island of Misfit Toys aren’t a mess. The Chicago ensemble is comprised of nine touring and recording members of their sprawling, genre-defying group. The Island of Misfit Toys are made up of brothers, sisters, and friends playing guitar, violin, flute, banjo, mandolin, drums, auxiliary percussion, french horn, and other instruments peppered in between. On their second full-length LP, I Made You Something, the group performs movements comprising rock, folk, punk, hip-hop, and spoken word that demolishes convention and challenges journalists draw some sort of label to place on this LP.

Vocalist and bandleader, Anthony Sanders is an easy comparison to Say Anything’s Max Bemis. They both have share a similar vocal timbre, delivery, and madness, but also share the dexterity of lyricism. In this case, Sanders outwrites Bemis even at his best. Sanders’ vocabulary and lyric formation is truly something that doesn’t touch independant music very often. The first lyrics we hear are, “Baptismal fount/ You flaunt your bounty ounce for ounce/ I want her body ouch for ouch“ and his poetry just doesn’t ease up on a single line throughout the nine songs on this LP. These are songs that Sanders was born to sing. His vocals aren’t just sung; they are performed. They wouldn’t have the same impact if they were exiting anyone else’s vocal chords.

The arrangements on the record are filled to capacity. It’s busy, but doesn’t reach the threshold of being unclear. It doesn’t come off pompous or pretentious either because this music is hooky and pointed enough to the point where I would call this a very accessible record. It’s got the charm of a folk-punk collective like Defiance, Ohio or Ramshackle Glory who are using their revolving door approach to instrumentation to layer the sound with even more melodies and harmonies, and not just for the sake of shoving another member on stage to hit dance around and hit timpani every other song.

Throughout it’s nine tracks, every title on I Made You Something shoots for the moon and plays out like an anthem. The shape-shifting music keeps you intrigued. From the theatrics on “Burble” to the unanticipated burst of rapping on “A Healthier Olympics” and to the guttural screaming on “Moral Melt,” this album is an amusement park’s worth of wonder and excitement. Every spin makes you want to spin it again to uncover more melodies and unload more meaning. It’s rarer and rarer for albums to contain a balance of incredible lyricism and equally incredible music, but that’s the gift The Island of Misfit Toys deliver on I Made You Something.