After the breakup of experimental lo-fi indie rock band the Unicorns, members Nicholas Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds; vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Jamie Thompson (aka J'aime Tambeur; drums) formed Islands, which found the two more focused on brighter production and neo-psychedelic indie pop. Since forming in early 2005, the Canadian band has also featured a fluctuating lineup of contributors on a wide variety of instruments, both in concert and on record. That list includes Alex and Sebastian Chow (the 1993 and 1994 World Super NES Fest champions), Jim Guthrie (grandson of Woody and nephew of Arlo), and rappers Subtitle and Busdriver.
Islands released their debut album, Return to the Sea, in April 2006, supporting its international release with a tour alongside Metric. That May, however, founding member Tambeur announced his departure from the band, a move that required the group to quickly revise its lineup in time for a European tour. Two years later, Islands inked a new contract with ANTI- Records and issued a second album, Arm's Way, which differentiated itself from the previous record by eschewing all guest appearances. The band did end up opening its doors to one particular guest, however, as Tambeur rejoined Islands just in time to appear on their third release, Vapours. His return would be short-lived, however, as the group would announce Tambeur's departure again in 2010, with drummer Aaron Harris, a bandmember between 2006 and 2009, arriving back in the lineup to take his place. In a seemingly endless game of revolving drummers, he was soon replaced by Luc Laurent of the band Pepper Rabbit.
The band's next album, A Sleep & a Forgetting, appeared early in 2012. The record was inspired by the dissolution of Thorburn's marriage and featured the most sincere and direct music of the band's career to date. The group's next album, 2013's Ski Mask, featured another new drummer, Adam Halferty, who was joined by two other new additions: brothers Evan and Geordie Gordon of the Guelph, Ontario band the Magic. Three years later in 2016, Islands unveiled their ambitious next project: a pair of distinct crowdfunded albums. Taste showcased the group's electronic, dance-oriented tendencies, while the traditional rock of Should I Remain Here at Sea? was a spiritual sequel to their debut, Return to the Sea.