Future Islands – In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey)

Compared to their contemporaries, Future Islands stick out like a big, sore, inspired thumb

Released May 28th, 2010 via Thrill Jockey / By John Paiva
Future Islands – In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey) Amongst a scene awash with 80s post punk synth-driven revival, Future Islands are indeed an island, separated from their pop driven rivals. This band is NOT MGMT.

With a blissed out riff opening the first track ‘Walking through That Door’, this album makes its first impression a catchy one. However, as the restrained drums kick in; along with Samuel T. Herring’s hushed vocals, it becomes apparent that this is not your usual square-shaped-synth record.

The synthesizer riff, provided on In Evening Air by J. Gerrit Welmers, are often looped continuously providing the tunes with an entrancing rhythm to flow to. And when they are taken away with just the vocals and the kick drum - seen on tracks like ‘Long Flight’ - the frailty of the lyrics become a lot more apparent. ‘Its cos you needed a hand’ repeats Herring’s refrain as the synths loop around and a chunky bass line keeps the song rolling a la Peter Hook.

When compared to their contemporaries, Future Islands stick out like a big, sore, inspired thumb. Tracks like ‘Tinman’ swell, glow and burst with drama. Herring’s vocals enhance the emotional impact of these tunes as his voice transcends from a faltering high to a gruffly hollered low. All this works perfectly well with the distorted bass and ethereal sound-scapes provided by the rhythm section.

Unfortunately the excellent examples presented on Future Islands’ second full length are perhaps, just a little too good to gain any real attention or garner any success on any international platform. Like the bands they take their influences from, Future Islands’ music has the kind of gorgeous charm and sorrow that is usually eschewed for more pop-influenced records of the same genre by radio DJs. I’m just glad they have a place in my record collection.