Future Islands : On The Water
The raspy, pantomime growl of Future Islands vocalist Samuel Herring can be a make or break situation for some, but the gentler approach taken with their most recent collection of songs is likely to open the floodgates to a new legion of fans. The raging fire that ran through 2010’s wounded In Evening Air has been fanned, with the calm, billowing songs on On The Water getting their spark from unabashed romanticism.
There are still hints of a difficult, possibly devastating break-up surfacing in the lyrics, but Herring is more at peace and reflective. ‘To forget a love, is to regret’ he sighs on the album’s first single Before The Bridge, while Balance’s mantra is a clear-headed ‘It just takes time.’ The most touching moment is a duet with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, The Great Fire, with its lyric ‘If you let me be there again/I’ll be still, won’t say a word.’
Thankfully, this pulling back to a more restrained vocal delivery and slower tempo hasn’t dampened the energy and inventiveness of the band. Instead, the sense of space and more varied dynamics help to make the mix of ballads and faster synthpop songs work to greater effect. The best example of this is the way Close To None floats on faint keys for a full three minutes before plunging us into one of the album’s most anthemic moments.
The Baltimore trio are coming to our shores in September and the Australian tour version of the new album comes with a couple of songs from the Undressed EP. These bonus songs strip down songs from their back catalogue, but they lose their edge in the process. As a contrast, On The Water slows things down and smoothes out their rugged edges but also adds a few extra layers to the band’s sound. The end result packs quite a punch.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Beyond The Bridge
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: New Chain SMALL BLACK, Smother WILD BEASTS
In A Word: Balanced