When Future Islands first plugged in at Muddy Waters Café back in 2010, it took folks a few minutes to adjust. There in the low light, the Baltimore-based trio came out swinging — literally. Deep bass grooves butted up against pulsating synths and drum-machine staccato as frontman Sam Herring unleashed his stage persona, a stalking mix of guttural growls, poetic speak-sing, and theatrical posturing. In the four years since, the band has unleashed two phenomenal albums, a handful of EPs, and a few B-sides. But it’s the newly unveiled Singles (their first for 4AD) that’s threatening to break them through to the masses. Future Islands’ draw has always been a hybridized mix of art-punk bravado and danceable hooks, and Singles boasts both of those elements in multitudes. The whole thing opens with “Seasons (Waiting on You),” a jam that almost tricks you into thinking it’s a waltz until the drums kick in, ushering an aerobic-like anthem about how time heals all wounds. Herring’s lyrics are famously romantic affairs, even at their most gut-wrenching (see 2012’s On the Water), but here they seem to have a hopefully realist drive to them. Take “A Dream of You an Me,” which finds Herring intoning lines like, “I asked myself for peace, and found it at my feet.” The fact that Singles’ 10 tracks each shine on their own speaks as much to the album’s title as it does to Future Islands’ growth as a band. It’s a record that reflects the long road traveled, from a group that sounds like they’ve finally arrived.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
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