I have been following Future Islands for about 8 years now, from their shows at dingy hipster hole-in-the-walls to the widespread popularity they have now obtained. Their new release The Far Field is an upbeat and tragically beautiful ode to lost love and existential pain. It is rare for a band not to deviate from their sound after multiple records but Future Islands are as quirky and genuine as ever in this new record. It is painful and blue but musically joyous. The Far Field takes this sound and fleshes it out over 12 tracks of reminiscent longing.
As the record begins on the track “Aladdin”, frontman Samuel T. Herring shows himself as somewhat of a modern day Pagliacci, with his warbling, pained vocals, and emotional lyrics. The way that the strong basslines and trippy upbeat keys pair with his voice bring the track to an oddly-chill, good vibes balance. This is what Future Islands sound seems to have always been about so it is a pleasure to see them continue to explore that despite The Far Field being a deeper, more heartbroken record.
This is one of those albums that is clearly written both for and to a woman. The lyrics flow between tracks, telling the possibly autobiographical story of a man who would give anything to travel through time to beg for his love to return. During “Ran”, Herring pleads “What’s a song without you? When every song I write is about you?” His desperation is shameless but it is a bold choice that works.
There is a real empathy that can be earned from a listener through lyrics like “Is this a desperate wish for dying or a wish that dying cease?” The poetry on tracks like “Cave” and “North Star” is imagery heavy but instrumentally the entire record stays in a fun, almost 80s inspired place. Other tracks like “Candles” and “Dayglow Fire” are more smooth and peaceful, with a slowed down and beachy vibe.
The biggest stand out on the record is “Shadows”, a track with a female guest vocalist whose voice stands up surprisingly well to Herrings. Together their crooning is odd, experimental, and bold. She is meant to represent the woman he has been yearning for, but she is only a haunting response to his cries – a shadow. The record ends on a fitting word; “stay.”
Fans of Future Islands are sure to love the honesty of this release and new listeners will easily be enchanted by the groups sound, now honed into something more interesting than ever. The Far Field is something you should not sleep on. Check it out and let us know what you think!
You can purchase The Far Field this coming Friday on the band’s website by clicking here!
The band is slated to perform week 1 and 2 of Coachella. Additionally, Future Islands have an upcoming show at the Roxy Theatre on April 13th. Tickets are sold out. Try StubHub for a chance to score one.