Future Islands deliver another solid effort with The Far Field.4AD, 2017
7.9 / 10
“Seasons (Waiting On You)” is a perfect song. And it was THE song in 2014. It gave a huge boost to Future Islands. Although the band’s earlier albums earned praise, “Seasons (Waiting On You)” put them on radars previously not tracking the band. Singles was also a solid album overall, which didn’t hurt either. Oh, and you can’t talk about that album without mentioning the performance. The one where frontman Sam Herring came alive on the band’s Letterman appearance. All of these elements came together to make Future Islands a can’t miss band. Obviously, lots of high expectations surround their fifth album, The Far Field.
And despite all of the growls and howls of Herring, The Far Field never produces a song as strong as “Seasons”. Maybe that’s too much to ask of the band, but damn it, they did it last time! Well, even without a “Seasons”, the album is still solid; definitely a grower. Herring admits that his songwriting is largely autobiographical. Love, especially the difficulty in maintaining a relationship while on the road, is a big theme. The album’s lead single, “Ran”, touches on this. He sings, “On these roads/ Out of love, so it goes.” The song also reveals that there’s a particular former lover that fuels many of Herring’s songs. “And what’s a song without you?/ When every song I write is about you/ When I can’t hold myself without you/ And I can’t change the day I found you.”
But before those heartstrings are tugged too hard, he reconnects with this love on the following song, “Beauty of the Road”. Looking into her eyes, he forgets the allure of the road; the constant travel to support his dream. That dream, it seems, isn’t without its misery. One of his darkest lines comes on “Through The Roses” where he sings, “In the weak of my soul/ The temptation to look inside my wrist—it grows/ The cut is waiting.” The band’s normally upbeat synths take a more somber tone, but they don’t fail to move you.
Most moving is the album’s opening song, “Aladdin”. It seemingly fades in out of nothing, but it’s an immediate adventure. The bass is thumping, the synths are sensual, and Herring’s growl wraps around his words like a gentle hug. That caress is enough to leave us feeling warm about The Far Field, even if it doesn’t have a “Seasons”.