Future Islands seem to be insulated within their own musical niche. It's one of the things that makes this band so entertaining. They're hard to pin down and even harder to push away from. For years, the Baltimore by way of Greenville, N.C., trio has been crafting tightly wound, post-wave music, brilliantly combining the pomp of '80s synth-pop and the grit and intensity of an operatic punk-rock outfit.
Future Islands' music is purely visceral. Vocalist Sam Herring's voice powerfully bellows atop infectious synth lines, juxtaposing the emotionally poignant lyrics with danceable melodies.
Much of what propelled Future Islands to their cult-like status within the indie-rock realm has been further intensified on Singles, the band's debut on 4AD. The aptly titled album is filled with pensive introspection, but despite the weighty subject matter each track plants itself firmly within the listener's mind for days to come.
Tracks like "Back In The Tall Grass" and the lead single "Seasons (Waiting On You)" both follow heavyhearted narratives, but serve as high-energy anthems nonetheless. The sheer dynamism on display is staggering: Whether Herring is subtly pulling out Nietzsche references in his smooth croon on "A Song for Our Grandfathers" or belting out metal-worthy growls like those on "Fall From Grace," he's intently focusing on connecting with the listener.
Connecting is frankly what Future Islands does best on Singles. The band engages both mind and body by gripping your heart with intense lyrical matters and then ripping you from that angst with unabashed dance tunes.
Whether Future Islands' tracks are packaged as slow churning and soulful or bouncy and boisterous, they're guaranteed to catch your attention. Herring's guttural vocals line these tracks with an unparalleled intensity, even compared to their older releases. While Singles may not be as upbeat as their previous work, it serves as a powerful statement that Future Islands are ready to put the past behind and forge new paths with their resurging tenacity.