We unpack the new album from Future Islands.
For a while there, Future Islands seemed destined for stardom. Following a performance in 2014 which went viral thanks to the sultry dance moves of frontperson Samuel T. Herring, the American synth-pop-rock band became the flavour of the month – an in-demand live act known for their uplifting live shows and soaring, melancholic anthems.
Singles was the album they were touring at the time – its standout track ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ was one of the tracks of the year.
But three years later, Singles follow-up The Far Field failed to reach the heights of their acclaimed 2014 LP, being rush-recorded in just three weeks in LA. “We lost ourselves,” Herring told The Guardian. “That record is condescending because I wasn’t honest in my writing.”
Their sixth studio album As Long As You Are is a refreshing return to form for the Baltimore outfit. Herring now spends much of his time in a blissful village in rural Sweden – what results is an effervescent celebration of synthesisers and tranquil sonics.
“Who am I?/Do I deserve the sea again?” Herring ruminates on opening track ‘Glada’, the Swedish name for a red kite bird that’s commonly seen where he lives. While the title also means ‘happy’ in Swedish, you’d be forgiven for thinking Herring is anything but – the song is a brooding start to an album that is full of existential questions and confessions of the soul.
Then on ‘City’s Face’, one of the album’s most introspective tracks, he bids adieu to a city he clearly still loves, but has run out of time for. “Filled with paranoia inside/Trust left with the loss of my pride/I say, ‘So long‘,” he sings over ethereal synths, the words landing with the same gut-punch feeling you get when saying goodbye to a friend moving overseas.
On past albums, Future Islands have found their lane and stuck with it vehemently. With As Long As You Are, they have cohesively pulled together all their best traits and evolved them, finding their groove for the first time in six years and delivering an album that shares the same cathartic release as a meditation retreat somewhere rural and serene.
Future Islands’ new album, As Long As You Are, is out now via 4AD/Remote Control.
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