The Island of Misfit Toys are a nine-piece emo rock band from Chicago that have been making waves around the scene there for some time now. Their newest record, I Made You Something, is their first released via Broken World Media, a label known for picking up quality up-and-comers with a rock-heavy sound. For The Island of Misfit Toys, this was the chance for a breakthrough record. However, fans of Midwestern emo and punk will struggle to find anything unique from this release, though they will probably get the most enjoyment out of it. It seems like the band was making its best attempt to recreate Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy, but the album fails to establish its own identity.
On this release, The Island of Misfit Toys constantly shift their lyrical direction between serious, charming, and humorous. This makes it challenging to extrapolate any greater message from the record overall. The lyrics, which generally revolve around failed relationships, feel cheesy – even for emo standards – while the band seems to overly rely on gimmicky theatrics. This style can work, but you have to have a unique swagger like Max Bemis, whose albums are a direct reflection of his own personality. Those records are colorful, engaging, and Bemis offers a lot of his personality to cling on to. I Made You Something never really establishes a direction or vision that is worthwhile. Everything just feels over the top. Both lyrically and musically; this record does not take enough interesting turns.
This record is filled with multiple five-plus minute tracks, and while these tracks do experience a shift in direction, it oftentimes fails to shift or transition smoothly. The pieces in no way feel related, and it begins to feel like a pretentious attempt at giving these songs greater grandeur than they really need at times. The band moves into lots of different spaces within the “emo” label, but they never really thrive in any of them. Bands such as Foxing and The World Is A Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die get to be the best of this genre because they commit to a single identity or idea and with great cohesiveness. The Island of Misfit Toys make you feel scattered on this record, which wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.
There are some tracks that are really enjoyable, such as the ambitious and grand closer, “Architects,” but there are too many moments on the record that feel banal. There are a lot of bands making music similar to certain portions of this album, but execute their ideas in clearer and more emotionally jarring ways. On I Made You Something, The Island of Misfit Toys didn’t do much to distinguish themselves and they wear their influences just a bit too clearly on their sleeves.