Album Review: Future Islands, The Far Field

Triumphant effort from US indie heroes

Reaching us as Future Islands make their way around the States and prepare for an extensive European tour in the summer, the Baltimore synth-pop crew’s fifth album is easily one of the most anticipated indie releases of the year. News that The Far Field would feature Blondie’s Debbie Harry and was being produced with John Congleton (David Byrne, St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings) added to the intrigue. Would it be another triumph for the Baltimore boys following 2014’s critically acclaimed Singles?

Short answer, yes.

The Far Field, from cover to cover, is a concise 12-track collection that aims high and meets all its targets. The songs are carefully thought-out and cross-reference each other constantly in their structure, instrumentation and lyrics, making the entire LP feel like an intertextual web, at the core of which sits the theme of existential anxiety.

Once again, the trademark Future Islands bass sound is given pride of place, underpinning every song and acting as the sonic glue that holds the record together. A seductive groove will draw you in gently, before a particularly weighty lyric catches you offguard and compels you to listen back.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on ‘Caves’, where the lines, “Is this a desperate wish for dying?/ Or a wish that dying cease?” fully expose you to singer Samuel Herring’s inner turmoil. On any other record, half of these lines might sound moany or insincere, but with Herring’s peculiarly soulful vocals, every lyrical passage sounds like an earnest truth.

Elsewhere ‘Shadows’ – featuring the one and only Debbie Harry – is a truly spine-tingling indie-rock duet, while ‘Black Rose’ is a powerful closer. Five albums in and Future Islands are better than ever.

 

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