Words About Music
Future Islands “Singles”
It’s amazing how much difference in hype a television performance can make. Baltimore indie synthpop/new wave band Future Islands did a staggering and nearly universally acclaimed performance of their song “Seasons (Waiting On You)” on Letterman and got tons of people, Letterman included, for their upcoming fourth studio album “Singles.” Well, that album came out about a week ago and on it they seek to prove themselves as a band with more than just one compelling track, and prove themselves they did. Though they do sort of rely heavily on the merit of their eccentric lead vocalist Samuel Herring they do manage to at least make a consistent full length. I can’t speak for their earlier work because I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure that this one, their first for prestigious indie label 4AD, is indicative of a rise in quality.
On “Singles,” Future Islands display a pretty noteworthy combination of post punk, synthpop, and indie rock music. It sort of sounds like a collaboration between The National, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode. There’s also a lot of natural, almost transcendental imagery. It sounds like it should be listened to outside on a cool spring/summer day when you have zero responsibilities. In theory, “Singles” should be a much darker album than it actually is. It’s actually surprisingly uplifting.
Lyrically speaking, Herring is not quite a genius. His lyrics typically come across as fairly simple, almost kind of whimsical. The whimsy is accented by his powerful and often-changing voice. He growls, screams, croons, yells, spits, speaks, and slithers his way through this album’s ten tracks, and each inflection is dramatic and intentional. While some may see this kind of thing as over-the-top, I see it as a creative addition to what is normally a fairly unemotional genre. Herring adds an undeniable human quality to synthpop with Future Islands that makes them a very enjoyable band.
“Singles” shows Future Islands as a band with so much potential. If they wanted to maybe make a sudden shift more into the post-punk side of the band’s sound, they could totally do it and still sound like Future Islands. If they wanted to go all out dance they could totally do that too! Future Islands seems to have free reign over their musical capabilities unlike most other bands that cover this kind of music. And while not every song on here is a winner nor is every song as memorable as “Seasons (Waiting On You),” the album as a whole is a consistent and entertaining release.
SCORE – 7.9
FAVORITE TRACKS – Seasons (Waiting On You), Spirit, Doves, Back in the Tall Grass, A Song For Our Grandfathers, Fall From Grace, A Dream Of You And Me