ALBUM REVIEW: Future Islands – As Long As You Are | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Released: 09.10.20

 

 

 

 

 

Image by Justin Flythe

The moment that propelled Future Islands from cult Baltimore grafters to muscular synth-pop powerhouse transpired during that now-legendary performance of Seasons (Waiting For You) on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2014. It was their Stateside network TV debut, and frontman Samuel Herring’s spasmodic jigs hipped the world at large to what was by then old news to day one fans – here was a band equally fluent in both unabashed intensity and trenchant catharsis.

Insofar as ballsy gambits go, the propulsive melodrama of Herring’s much-memed histrionics belied a lucid grasp of indie-centric theatricality. In this sense, his unblushing exuberance not only elevated the band a notch above the rabble, but also intimated to audiences that it was okay to air out their repressed emotions, too. By offsetting the wistful interiority of that song with Herring’s ebullient physicality, Future Islands savvily transitioned from also-rans into credible big-time contenders.

Now, six years later, they have made a record that acutely ameliorates old wounds while casting a sanguine gaze towards the future. Markedly more triumphant than its brooding predecessor (2017’s The Far Field), As Long As You Are is by turns infectiously zestful and crushingly devastating, and finds Herring’s flair for achingly resonant songcraft still very much intact. “Who am I?/Do I deserve the sea again?”, he sombrely ponders on the superbly understated opener Glada – the plaintive inflection in his sonorous baritone lands like a well-timed haymaker to the feels.

There’s no point fixing what ain’t broke, and so the songs on this album cannily swaddle Herring’s poetic aphorisms in a familiar embrace of keyboardist Gerrit Welmers’ lush synths and bassist William Cashion’s grounded basslines. This synergistic alchemy has long been the nub of the band’s patent appeal – here, it’s perfectly encapsulated in both the robust groove of disco-laced stunner Born In A War and Plastic Beach’s transcendent euphoria.

With its deft blend of misty-eyed optimism and uninhibited jouissance, as tenderly refracted through the poignant candour of Herring’s lyricism, As Long As You Are positions Future Islands squarely at the vanguard of their compeers – and you just know they’re dancing all the way to the bank.

 

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