Album Review

The Far Field

The Far Field

by Future Islands


4AD
7.5 / 10
7th April 2017

Reviewed by Paul Larsen


In 2014 Future Islands made an appearance on late night television that, thanks to the utterly captivating performance of frontman Samuel T Herring, went viral and exploded the previously slow-burning career of the Baltimore synth rockers. Several world tours, multiple festival appearances, and a fledging rap career later and the trio are back with new record The Far Field.

And to be honest, not too much has changed. By the time the familiar drum loop of opening song 'Aladdin' slides into the arcing synth pattern, you know what you’re in for. Not that this is a bad thing – part of the beauty of Future Islands' sound is the familiarity. This is not the nine-course degustation designed to disorientate and challenge – this is comfort music. Reliable, comfortable and fun.

That isn’t to say there isn’t anything new here. There’s an element of experimentation in Herring’s lyricism throughout, and a guest spot from Debbie Harry on ‘Shadows’ really livens things up. There’s also a little more experimentation in Gerrit Welmers' keyboard work which at times comes excitingly close to losing its way completely, as on ‘Beauty of the Road’ - the array of blips and groans in the background echoing the lost wing of a child’s science museum.

There aren’t many moments on this record that approach the grandiosity of ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’, the breakthrough cut from 2014's Singles. Lead track ‘Run’, gets the closest but it’s not until ‘Time on Her Side’ that the growl of Sam Herring’s range is dusted off and explored properly. Altogether it’s a less bombastic and certainly more measured record than Singles, but The Far Field certainly retains a distinct smart-pop vibe and bittersweet sentiment that endears and rewards.





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