At first glance, looking like a band formed by Steve Martin and Alan Tudyk (in ‘Dodgeball’), Future Islands are one of the biggest synthpop bands currently performing. Finding fame following a performance on The Letterman Show in 2014, Sam Herring’s Future Islands release their latest album ‘The Far Field’. Their first album since their overnight rise to notoriety, The Far Field had to live up to expectations to ensure Herring and co didn’t slip back into the abyss of anonymity. According to recent reviews, Future Islands have achieved this.
Originally from Baltimore, Future Islands are currently touring internationally internationally with their new album, demonstrating their new status with headliner slots at growing festivals such as Green Man, based in Crickhowell, Wales. Purportedly breaking through the 1000 show barrier whilst still touring their previous album ‘Singles’ (2014), Future Islands aren’t newcomers to the music scene. Given time to mature away from the spotlight before their fame explosion, Future Islands aren’t the subject of ‘Second album’ speculation (“Will they flop with the release of their second album”), as is so often the case, with The Far Field being their fifth studio album.
Influenced by two relationship break-ups, The Far Field is an exploration of loneliness. Herring admits that it is his on experiences which prompted him to write about the topic, saying that he had felt at times like he had “reached all [his] goals but all [he] found was the same loneliness.” (Mojo). As a result, The Far Field is a display of emotional rawness. Out in the open, Herring’s emotions are portrayed in his lyrics, but also in his voice: unique, but pained.
A surprise cameo appearance is made by Debbie Harry (of Blondie) on the track ‘Shadows’. Performed as a duet, the song marks the meeting of two distinct voices, with Debbie Harry’s age showing through in her performance.
Some will be sad to hear that Herring is yet to perfect the choreography for The Far Fields’ new performances, but, he has said he hopes that the emotional proximity of the album will make up for this. A smart move from the front man, who will want to avoid becoming a caricature. Regardless, the album itself more than makes up for the toned down performances. A unique voice meeting a familiar genre, Future Islands’ The Far Field deserves a rating of three stars.
Artist: Future Islands
Release date: April 7, 2017
Play time: 45 mins
Standout track: Aladdin