On record and onstage, Baltimore’s Future Islands can cover quite a bit of ground; they’re somber, artful balladeers one moment, synth-pummeling New Wavers the next. For On the Water, the concept-esque follow-up to 2010’s glorious In Evening Air, the fellas have scaled back their danciest tendencies, instead injecting subtle crescendos of synth and electronic beats among a collection of mostly slow-burners. Thankfully, frontman Samuel Herring’s inimitable gruff speak-sing looms large over Water, making the disc just as assaulting as its predecessors. Recorded in a historic oceanfront house in North Carolina, the album carries hints of its source; the guitars and beats are wave-like, building, crashing, and retreating on tracks like “Grease,” and beach-born field recordings find their way onto both “Tybee Island” and the album’s title track. And in combination with Herring’s empowered laments, it makes for a record that grooves as much as it affects. Future Islands play Muddy Waters on Wednesday, November 16. Visit clubmercy.com for tickets.


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