Posted in Album of the Month

JUNE: Singles by Future Islands

First impressions don’t always count, I guess.

I knew nothing of this band – who have actually been around for a while, this being their 3rd album – until that Lettermen performance went a bit viral. And like Brother Guy, I was kind of appalled by Samuel T. Herring (what a name!)’s vocals, which I just couldn’t get over. He was certainly soulful, but the hystrionics made it feel kind of ridiculous.

And then, bit by bit, I’d keep hearing from various friends about how much they loved the album. So, like you, I came to this cold and expected little. And to start with, I wasn’t all that sure. His voice is less Marmite in the mix of this rather smart and crisp 80-influenced production. But neither did it grab me that much. Not on the first or second listen. But by the third or fourth, I was doing that thing you do when you know it’s got you – you go straight back to the beginning and play it again.

Twin Shadow is a looming comparison it’s impossible not to make. Like TS, the band take an 80s sound that could come across and self-conscious and make something organic of it. That’s down to the sound being well-crafted and to some pretty solid songwriting hooks. It’s an odd package but it works surprisingly well.

Is it my album of the year? No. (current candidates: St Vincent, East India Youth, Beck, Todd Terje) Will I be playing it in a year’s time? I’m not sure, but it’s possible. I still play the first Twin Shadow album regularly (the 2nd one, not though – it didn’t have any staying power). I hear they’re also a blow-away act live, so that might be fun to do too.

File under: surprisingly palatable and tasty.

9 thoughts on “JUNE: Singles by Future Islands

  1. Firstly, thank you Brother David. I sitll enjoy reciving new, phyical music dropping through my letter-box.

    So, only had this two days and I’ve been through a propper journey with this already. As per my email, my first reaction was ‘this isn’t very David’. I think that the opening track ‘Seasons’ sounds like an odd choice for an opener if you come to this cold. And when I say cold I mean totally cold. I have yet to see a picture of the band/singer, any videos including what seems to have become an infamour letterman performance (BTW – letterman gets some awesome musical guests / variety) not heard a track. The 80’s sound wasnt the surprise I think it was the vocal and perhaps the lyrics. I just didn’t feel it as a David choice and I was surprised. I was so hijacked by his voice that that is practically all I could hear for the first couple of listens. As David says … but then it gets you and it is on the realisation why that makes it a David album; strong songs, 10 of them (or is it 11?). David rarely picks anything other than strong-song albums. And this is another. Back in the Tall Grass was my way into this album. Then like the moon.

    Ok. So lets cover Twin Shadow. I find this hard as Confess is one of my favourite albums ever (not best, favourite). David loves songs and I love raw emotion. The difference between Confess and this album is for me that Confess was obviously the product of one man. It was a self portrait. Perhaps lyrically stronger than ‘catchy song strong’? (discuss). This album feels a little more like a collective product despite the distinctiveness of his voice. This isn’t a bad thing and maybe factually inaccurate but … and I guess this defines what I look for is that I feel that I know TS after listeing to Confess I dont feel this with this album – which is a massively unfair comparison as I have had one for 5 years and one for 2 days!

    This is a really strong album. I am finding it infectious and I am sure that Stacey will love it too so it will get a lot of play in Casa-Story. Will we be listening to it in a year? I think I proobably will.

  2. This has found a real place in my life. Its interesting as I am observing Stacey going through exactly the same journey as I did. She’s half way there.

  3. I think that I’m on a similar tip as the two of you thus far. On first listen it’s good enough to give it another run around and it seem to grow with each listen.

    To try and pin point what the album reminds me of is a bit tough. The lead singers voice is something to get used to.. perhaps not their strongest feature as a band. With that he does have a Bryan Ferry element that I like on a few songs.

    The stand out songs for me are ‘Sun In the Morning’ and ‘Doves’. I think on both of these the strong production and the vocals sit nicely together. ‘Like the Moon’ is another strong track, and right up David’s street I reckon. On the other hand “Fall From Grace’ is a bit of a pimple on the face of what is a decent album.

    I think the jury is still out for me if I’ll still be listening to it next year, but it’s not showing signs for me why I wouldn’t.

  4. So sorry I’m so late to the party here. Some life upheavals, holiday for most of July and a broken Macbook means I’m basically screwed if I can’t do it on my phone. Poor excuses but….

    I LOVE this album. I came to it with a prejudice after the letterman show performance, which was a) ridiculous and b) overhyped beyond belief. But it’s worked it’s way in mercilessly. My twin shadow comment was about the (excellent) appropriation of 80s motifs, but as with Twin Shadow, this just was a pointer to the age of the artist and influences and no pastiche.

    The opening of Spirit is fantastic, and once you get over the voice you realise there’s real expression and emotion in there. Just what I want from song-based music. I play this one a week and enjoy it just as much as I did on first listen.

    I salute you, brother.

  5. This has been one of the surprises of the year for me. I really didn’t like the Letterman performance, and this has grown on me. The 80s vibe running through it is great, and I think there’s just really good songs and music in there, however daft the frontman’s antics are.

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