- 09 Oct 20
Warm and fuzzy synth pop from Baltimore veterans.
2014’s Letterman performance of ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ turned Future Islands into internet sensations, thanks to frontman Samuel Herring’s ‘dance like nobody’s watching” moves, becoming the most viewed video on The Late Show’s YouTube page. It catapulted the Baltimore band into a new league, but it’s one they’re finally comfortable with, on the evidence of this sixth album. Future Islands are now officially a quartet, with long-time touring drummer Mike Lowry joining Herring, Gerrit Welmers (synths) and William Cashion (guitar, bass) as a full-time member.
Sometimes, electronic pop can sound a little flat and austere, but Future Islands manage to give you the warm and fuzzies, thanks to a combination of Herring’s ‘heart on the sleeve’ lyrics and a full, layered sound. The band took on production duties themselves and the result sees Herring’s vocal very much front and centre, soaring over a backdrop of shimmering keyboards and toe-tapping melodies.
There’s a swagger to tracks like ‘Waking’ and ‘For Sure’, the latter possessed of a galloping chorus that sucks you up into its embrace and refuses to let you free and a melody line that could have come sashaying out of a 1980s Depeche Mode album, as Herring pens a grown-up love song with its roots in respect: “I will never keep you from just who you are”. ‘Plastic Beach’ is the catchiest song ever written about body dysmorphia, while the retro bass of ‘Moonlight’ sounds like it could have been lifted from The Cure’s back catalogue, and that is high praise indeed.
Elsewhere, there’s the stately and wonderful ‘Glada’, which resounds and rebounds around the inside of your cranium long after the last note fades, the world-weary and affecting ‘City’s Face’, and the hypnotic and compelling ‘Hit The Coast’, which comes across like an electronic version of The War on Drugs.
They may be around since 2006, but on the evidence of As Long As You Are, Future Islands are just hitting their peak now.