Filed under: Music I first heard in a coffee shop that I actually liked. That is the origin story of my latest infatuation. I tried to be stealth by opening up my SoundHound app to find out what I was hearing, but Chan had already spotted my actions, “Yeah, this is Future Islands.” It was a band she was already familiar with, so like an excellent friend, she shared the small wealth of songs she had from them.
The song that had plucked so roughly at my heart strings was “Inch of Dust”, from their 2010 release ‘In Evening Air’.
My interest had started right before the release of their newest album (and first on 4AD) ‘Singles’, so I felt like I was simultaneously playing a game of crunch time, while also– dare I say– listening to current music. An extremely rare occurrence, and that’s not to say I’m too cool for pop music, the complete opposite in fact. I’m just never on board while a band is actively releasing new music. So the feeling of being on the ball happens maybe 3 times a year, if that.
It was T-minus 2 weeks until the release of ‘Singles’, so I focused mainly on their 2nd and 3rd efforts, ‘In Evening Air’ and ‘On the Water’ to get an honest feel of where they were at. And I loved every second of it. The vocals that Samuel Herring delivers are not for everyone, and I can admit that. He sings like his very life depends on it, minimal instrumentals be damned. Both albums are practically dripping in virtue, and leave you hanging on every word he belts out. His theatrics even go so far as his (now famous) dance moves during live performances.
The combination of the performances, the voice, and the almost complete lack or care of personal style fill that hole I had for something undisguised, and I can respect that 100% and beyond.
Truth be told, I’m still sinking my teeth into ‘Singles’. But, I can’t deny the fact that the first… single off of ‘Singles’ is pretty great. The feel on the new record has definitely switched a bit. The vocals seem not as pronounced, and the production value seems leveled out to be more “consumer-friendly”. It’s still an enjoyable record. And if you crave that raw feel, you’ll always have the two previous records. But personally, I can’t shrug off a catchy tune, and that’s why I’m still into ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’.
‘Singles’ is their first release from 4AD (previous two were on Thrill Jockey). It’s hard for me to corner or recommend this band to a certain audience. Those who love an almost ballad-like theatrical synth-pop song, those who love crazy dance moves, those who couldn’t give a fuck that Future Islands is “the next big thing”, and just accept that good music is good music.
If you want to dive into the new stuff, ‘Singles’ is available on iTunes.
(And if you know anyone who has two extra tickets to their show at Webster Hall, I’ll be here.)