REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Future Islands find a new home on 4AD with new record 'Singles'

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Baltimore's own Future Island release their fourth studio album, their debut for music-fan favourite label 4AD. Is it worthy of such an esteemed home?

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Future Islands - Singles Out now on 4AD

I had never listened to Future Islands before this release and thought I would give them a go. Mostly because I usually like three piece bands but also because they’re from Baltimore, home to the best TV show ever (The Wire, duh). Let’s start with the obvious, front man Sam Herring has a rather distinctive voice.  It’s dramatic, growling and grand. You’d know it was Herring’s voice anywhere, and it really is a strong instrument. Much like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s vocalist, Alec Ounsworth, I can see Herrings voice being loved by many but irksome to the rest. Personally, I believe it is a great vehicle to deliver the poignant lyrics on offer. Synth-pop and New Wave usually aren’t usually
my thing. I mean, I have a deep and unconditional love for the B52s (note: that is not a direct comparison to Future Islands) but beyond that… *shrug*. However, Future Islands sounds very accomplished within their genre. They really own their sound, have reeled it in and honed it. Their synthscapes and arrangements pick you up and take you on some kind of journey, all led by Herring’s unleashed growl. ‘Singles’ is Future Islands fourth record, but their debut for 4AD and it easy to hear why they would be at home on their new label. I don’t think I would return to this record time and again however – it’s good and all, but it doesn’t really stand up against the other records I am currently playing (over and over).  Lyrically, it is very accomplished and Herring's delivery only adds to the imagery and romance conjured up here. I do actually feel like my slight negativity is a bit unfair; the songs are well written, well structured and organised, and individually the instruments (including vocals) are great. I guess this is how I find out that synth-pop just isn't for me.