I remember when I first heard Future Islands. Living in their home state of North Carolina, the state where these gents first started making music, I stumbled upon their second album In Evening Air. For most bands, many people focus in on the vocals at first listen. For me, I typically gravitate to guitars and drums; however, it’s near impossible to not immediately take not of Samuel Herring’s mystifying voice. Calling it unique is an understatement – it’s certainly not for everyone, but for those that do enjoy his tone and cadence, it pulls you in closer and closer, leaving you chomping at the bit for their next offering.
The bands aura tends to be described as a tad dark, but instead of a heavy-handed creepiness filled with pentagrams and unconcealed lyrics found with doom and gloom bands, Future Islands’ darkness culminates in a blended mix of muddy bass, futuristic synthesizers and a downright new-wavish croon. From track to track, the listener gets a sense of the album like frantically flipping through the pages of a gripping murder mystery, intrigue dripping at every chorus and verse.
“Doves” is just plain and simple energetically amatory in a creepy way. Probably the first time that’s ever been written by someone not committed, but goddammit it’s fucking good. I’ll even wait while you listen to it and come back nodding in agreement…
See, I told you. That bass…it drives the song. The way Herring challenges himself to capture brilliance in a different way than before is tremendously captivating. “A Song For Our Grandfather” also tugs at you. Maybe this hits me on a more personal level, but it resonates an invigorates me. All it takes is the simple deep buzzing sound combined with the treble-rich guitar plucking and tambourine bounce to provide a gorgeous backdrop to an already enthralling story.
Getting back to the distinct vocal styling of Future Islands, the opener “Seasons (Waiting On You)” is another display of versatility and true range from Herring. Still not convinced? Perhaps the build-up that finalizes with a gargling scream on “fall From Grace” suits you more. It’s truly impressive the way the band molds to the ever-adaptive vocals.
As the keys robotically beep and boop, I sense the Clockwork Orange soundtrack influence – maybe Alex was listening to “Spirit” as he partook in a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence. And that’s again why Future Islands songs hold up so well; you can TRULY separate yourself and submerse yourself into a whole new surrounding while listening to their music. All in all, Singles is the best from the band since In Evening Air. The band commingles a sound that sends a sporadic shiver down your spine, yet keeps you coming back for more.