Be warned: Future Islands will knock you on your ass. This band’s sound is imbued with raw emotion in every song. The raw emotion derives from the lead singer, Samuel T. Herring, who fully commits lyrically and vocally to the infusion of vunlerability in every song (see, for example, the viral video “Seasons” live on The Late Show, where the band blows away Letterman and everyone else in The Ed Sullivan Theatre). The band’s atmospheric keyboards, New Order-like bass lines, and tight drum rhythms provide a unique palate for Herring’s imposing voice. Other than bass, the band doesn’t have a guitar player, and that certainly contributes to Future Island’s unique sound.
I am confident that the songs on Future Islands’ “The Far Field” will move you. The lyrics are most certainly about love — new, lost or otherwise. “Aladdin” opens the album, fading in dreamy music and then hitting you over the head with Herring’s sledgehammer voice. Herring and the band guide you through the album one beautiful song after another. “North Star” tells about the protagonist’s commitment to wake up beside his lover no matter the distance or circumstances that separate them. Herring demonstrates on “Shadows” that his intensity is contagious, a song in which Blondie’s Debbie Harry accompanies him. “Shadows” rivals Blondie’s “Union City Blue” and “Fade Away and Radiate” as Harry’s most vulnerable recorded vocal performance.
It is extremely difficult for me to be objective about this band and album. There isn’t any song on the album or in the band’s repertoire that I don’t enjoy. The songs on this album bring me to another place where sadness and awe of the beautiful melodies intersect. Future Islands’ will likely transport you to the same place. I recommend spending a lot of time with “The Far Field” this summer.