Future Islands – The Far Field Review 


Future Islands – The Far Field

Pre-Letterman performance, the Future Islands were a little known clan with three albums of floaty synth pop under their belt. One iconic, soon-to-be-viral performance later, and the Baltimore trio completely explode. Seasons (Waiting On You) went on to become the ‘best song of 2014’ for several media networks like Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound, just one song from Singles – the album that landed them in the top 40 in both America and the UK. They now had to tackle an album to tail their breakthrough tracklist, resulting in the unflustered synth pop force of The Far Field.

Huge success doesn’t seem to have withered Future Islands’ winning formula of synth-heavy backing tracks. The ghostly aura that wavers in the background of Aladdin is launched by the synths, while they bolster the hurtling percussion in Ran, only to emphasise the song’s speed, which ties perfectly into the title of the song. Having said that, William Cashion plays a large part in The Fair Field, with prickles of bass playing the starring role in tracks such as Cave, Through the Roses and Black Rose. Though their musical style hasn’t faltered, the pressure of their recent achievement looms in the lyrics. Through the Roses has been described by frontman Samuel Herring as “a suicide song”, the theme of loneliness taking its fateful grip on this forlorn number, despite Herring having “reached all of [his] goals”. In the midst of the robotic notions – especially strong in the likes of North Star, Time On Her Side and Candles – it is this emotive highpoint that gives the album soul and vigour– not, as I first figured, the constant wrath of lively synths, which actually loses its gusto towards the end of the album. Each song begins with a new electro shading, but the similar feel of each introduction keeps the album tight and flowing. The similar tempos of each song could either be interpreted in the same vein, keeping to its great flow, with the sprightly momentum making it a great soundtrack to any road-trip movie, or a little tiresome too.

There’s no denying Herring is a spectacular vocalist. His silvery crooning works wonders against the mechanical backdrops, not only providing the album’s greatest asset, but also arguably the strongest element of Future Islands’ whole repertoire. The passion that it decorates each track with, and is evident in the performances such as the striking Letterman one, is what has truly got the band to where they are now. Extra beautiful vocals come to fruition in Shadows, which features Debbie Harry’s vocal expertise. Their warbles are a fantastic match.

In this dynamic uniting of sublime synth and folky trill, Future Islands have put forward a pretty impressive successor to Singles. Expressive both instrumentally and lyrically, sung with deep and recognisable feeling, The Far Field is sound in every way, but it is something that, despite Debbie Harry’s brilliant intervening, cannot be revitalised in its unchanging direction.

Future islands – The Far Field: 7/10

Eleanor Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Slowdive, Danny Brown, Future Islands, Maximo Park and Ride 

This Weeks Music Video with Lorde, Future Islands, Marika Hackman, Ahonhi and Sylvan Esso 

Single Review – Future Islands – Ran

Future Islands have announced the release of their fifth studio album The Far Field for an April 7th date. They made a lasting impression back in 2014 with their last album Singles which was aptly named for an album bursting with infectious and catchy songs. This included some energetic performances. With their new single ‘Ran’ they pursue the same approach with punchy beats, rolling bass line and a whirring synth behind it. This build up to a greater peak in the chorus is echoed by Samuel Herring’s deeper vocal snarl which ramps up the energy of the track further. It is still a infectious track, but you get the feeling that they could produce the same results with a different method if they tried. 

Owen Riddle

Glastonbury 2015 – Who To Catch Up On

If you were busy this weekend and didn’t feel like being surrounded by the mud, the Tories or the wannabes at Glastonbury, then here’s a small guide about which acts you should catch up on…

Lionel and Pharrell spread the joy

The Soul and Pop legend that is Lionel Richie attracted the biggest crowd of the festival with over 100,000 moving to tracks like ‘dancing on the ceiling’ with thousands all decked out in what was the most popular merchandise of the festival. It’s almost like they missed a trick not making him a headline act given his reception. Similarly Pharrell got the crowd going in an enthusiastic fashion and both provided the simple feel-good factor.

Ronson and friends provide the funk

Mark Ronson went all out in his efforts to wow the audience with his set. He did just about played and tampered with everything available and rolled out a varied list of artists to give him a hand from Kevin Parker, Kyle Falconer, Boy George, Grandmaster Flash, George Clinton and Mary J. Blige to name a few! Outstanding effort from Ronson to give the audience more than their money’s worth.

Florence Substitutes

Florence + The Machine delivered a high energy performance verging on the insane as she belted out her simple yet sophisticated catalogue of music and paid tribute to the missing Foo Fighters with her own rendition of ‘Times Like These’. The fact she’s back to number one in the album charts should tell you all you need to know about the impact of her performance.

Reliably Amazing acts deliver again

Future Islands rocked out another fine performance, despite feeling the fatigue slightly in what has been a non-stop year and a half for the band. Samuel Herring still amazed and frightened the life out of people with his now trademark stylish aggression, passion and ridiculous dance moves. In a similar but wonderfully sleazy way, Father John Misty thrust and launched himself just about everywhere, but delivered every track at album level quality. ‘Bored in the USA’ was just as theatrically trashy and even unnerving as you’d expect and was a sight to behold. Meanwhile, Courtney Barnett made herself feel at home at the Pyramid Stage of all places whilst effortlessly and breezily rolling through set in her typical laid back style. Glastonbury veterans delivered their set as if it was 1993 again and even stole a lot of the crowd away from Kanye’s headline act. The Who rolled out a hit feast for the fans and delivered also delivered a performance like their famous seventies gigs, but at a slower pace, still worth seeing despite their advancing years.

Kanye…

He was causing controversy before and after the his headline slot with many signing petitions to get him removed, but he was there in defiance and the opening stages of his set delivered some of his biggest tracks and was almost space age in it’s opening and set up for his ego with him and the lights on him. As simple as that. It worked wonderfully as a statement, but for the whole show it’s novelty wore away and he really should have took a leaf out of Ronson’s book for the middle and latter stages of his set. Not even Kanye can do everything on his own. The fact he claimed he was the biggest rockstar in the world is of no concern to me… it’s that sort of musical conservatism that stifles music and similarly threatened to stifle the festival, but Kanye was always going to be there and divided the majority of the audience straight down the middle. The Libertines were also left high and dry by being moved up the billing thanks to the Foo Fighters absence and their disjointed and worn set did nothing to get anyone shouting.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Week’s Music Video with Future Islands, Foals, Hurts, Mac DeMarco & Beirut

Single Review – Future Islands – The Chase

The Baltimore trio Future Islands debuted their new single live on one of David Letterman’s final shows back in April, and If there’s one thing that demands more attention than Samuel Herring’s abstract dance moves, it’s his voice, and the emotion that drives it.  Watching the Letterman performance, you can’t help but feel as though you’ve accidentally stumbled into the same pub your drunk dad is belting out karaoke in. Herring’s raspy growl is something you’d expect over the top of a Foo Fighters track with an electric guitar overdose, rather than accompanying a beat that Bastille’s front man Dan Smith could have produced – but that’s not to say growl and pop synth don’t cohabitate, slightly.
Watching Herring perform, it’s impossible to ignore the energy and emotion that goes into every word he sings. It’s raw and quite remarkable, and reading the lyrics you definitely grasp why there’s so much passion in what he says, and why so much attention is demanded when he takes centre stage- Samuel Herring possesses incredible presence.
Hannah Crowe