Los Angeles – Future Islands broke through to the masses in the later part of 2014. The band’s wild performance of “Seasons (Waiting On You)” on The Late Night with David Letterman went viral that summer. It turned the Baltimore synth-pop trio into an over night sensation. They formed in 2006 and had been touring incessantly and went from playing small gigs in front of a few hundred people to selling out venues holding thousands and having their name near the top of the list at major music festivals around the world. Without question, these were some of the hardest working and most deserving musicians in all of indie rock. Singles was the band’s fourth full-length record when released in 2014 via 4AD. Now three years later, we have their follow-up entitled The Far Field. The major difference now is that many people are anticipating the record and are fully aware of what this band is capable of creating. Rest assured, Future Islands build upon Singles in many ways, yet remains fairly faithful to that record’s core sound.
The new tracks are constructed around Gerrit Welmers’ swelling synths and William Cashion’s sweeping bass lines. Samuel Herring is still unwavering in cultivating all of his raw emotions into delicate, beautifully composed lyrics. “Aladdin,” the opaque opening track is innately understated. With bizarre lyrics such as “We were the candles that lit up the snow on dusty roads / We were the animals breathing life into June just to see faith / Blessed by the cannibal moon and the spoon dipping deep to your nose / Stressed by the distance of shoes & the bridges too far to be named,” one may have to scratch their head at what it all means. Yet the lyrics draw you in ever so deeper with each careful listen. “Time On Her Side” features the trio’s cavernous trademark synths. There is a degree of comfort in knowing what you are in store for on the musical front, while the lyrics, per usual, are gripping and transcendent.
“Ran,” the band’s first single, astonishes. It is as majestic and instantly gratifying as the band’s immense single several years ago, “Seasons.” My favorite track is “Beauty Of The Road.” It flows with grace and a deep contemplation of moments in one’s (former) life. I love vocalist Herring’s conviction here as he carries the tone with true passion and sensitivity. This time around the vocals are light as Herring sings with much a sleeker delivery. Here we have lyrics like, “Cuz in a darkened space, we watched our souls replace / And said our ‘goodbyes’ / But we didn’t know the shape” and my favorite lines off the record, “You spend your whole life searching and find the thing you’re looking is what you lost so long ago.” The song may put things in perspective for you.
Future Islands delivers true artistry on “Through The Roses”. Let it seep inside and you’ll find the inner strength just like Herring does. A darker tale is told, yet the truth is there, hidden in plain sight. Once again, Herring speaks truth and cuts deep with every line. “Through The Roses,” like many of the band’s songs is pure poetry disguised in a snyth-pop song. The lyrics and the way they are conveyed are never hammy or pretentious, but are poured out with considerable emotion. “Shadows,” another highlight features the duet vocals of Debbie Harry from Blondie. The dichotomy of vocals from these two lead singers works exceedingly well and is a welcoming addition to the 12-track record. The endeavor clocks in at forty-six minutes and like any memorable voyage, there are sights and sounds you’ll remember for a long time.
The Far Field is remarkably satisfying and will move you in many ways. If you have your sights set on a road trip, this is your go-to record this year. If you are getting over a loss or just starting all over in life, this is the record for you. The album carries its heart on its sleeve and this heart is open, empathetic, and most of all generous. The conquest of life and love bleed through the veins of “The Far Field,” but there’s much to be said and discovered about everything in between. Future Islands show that mind, body, and soul are all connected and to feel complete, they must work in harmony with each other.
The Far Field is available for purchase through iTunes. LP, CD, digital download and cassettes are available via 4AD. Future Islands will begin a tour April 7th in Baltimore, MD. Head over to the Future Islands Facebook page for tour dates.
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