Baltimore's drum-less disco-punk trio Future Islands
(vocalist Samuel Herring, electronic keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and
bassist William Cashion, originally from North Carolina)
debuted with Wave Like Home (Upset the Rhythm, 2008).
Despite Herring's wild shouting, the album contained the
catchy Little Dreamer and Beach Foam.
The EP Feathers and Hallways (2010) added another bouncy ditty,
The Happiness of Being Twice.
In Evening Air (2010) maintained that momentum only in the
single Tin Man (with steel drums), whereas
Walking through That Door and Swept Inside explored
moodier terrains. Herring's vitriolic energy stole the show again in
Long Flight, Inch of Dust and An Apology.
On The Water (2011) was overall much more
mellow (Where I Found You, The Great Fire), with only
Before the Bridge evoking the energetic tunes of the first album.
Apparently, the world needed yet another revival of old-fashioned
synth-pop because Singles (4AD, 2014) became a sensation (at least in
the mainstream press).
Cocktail-lounge shouter Samuel Herring pours his heart into
Seasons (his most celebrated song), Spirit and
A Dream of You and Me (to mention the lively ones)
that are neither atmospheric nor catchy,
just predictable and derivative, and so he ends up sounding funny.
Joe Cocker-ian funk-soul (Doves) and
R.E.M.-ish balladry (Lighthouse)
the band seems to have not much of a vision, let alone musical skills.
The rest is a parade of rather lame, unlistenable litanies.
Even in the 1980s this would have sounded old-fashioned and cheesy.
would have left these songs for a "rarity" collection.
The Far Field (4AD, 2017) boils down to two songs:
Ran, where Samuel Herring sounds increasingly like R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe backed by heartless electronics instead of Pete Buck's ringing guitar,
Cave, where the usual tribute to
Joy Division (and their offspring New Order)
meets Peter Gabriel's angst.
The rest is a shipwreck amid the
pointless synth-pop of Aladdin, Candles, the Caribbean-accented North Star, Day Glow Fire (with tribal drums),
the suicide song Through the Roses.
The most propulsive and operatic of these tedious ballads,
Shadow, is ruined by the aging tuneless voice of Debbie Harry of Blondie.
Keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and orchestral arranger Patrick McMinn
do what they can to make these predictable songs interesting.
The artistic decline of Future Islands continued on
As Long as You Are (2020) amid
trivial and derivative synth-pop ditties like
For Sure and City's Face.
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