By Paul McAleer
Around 12 seasons ago, Future Islands danced their way into the mainstream spotlight with a career-changing performance. Other than leaving David Letterman elated and confused, “Seasons (Waiting on You)” from 2014’s Singles, landed a spot on nearly every song of the year list. We’ve been eagerly waiting for new material ever since.
“Ran” is the lead single from The Far Field tasked with going toe-to-toe with “Seasons.” Lyrically, “Ran” is slightly less memorable, but Samuel T. Herring’s vocal performance carries the track in a way that few musicians can. A love song that features the line, “Nobody seems to me so perfect and so sweet,” sounds like it came from a fifth grader’s crayon-covered Valentine’s Day card when read out loud. When Herring delivers a line like this, it is truly so perfect and so sweet.
“Shadows” is one of the finest Future Islands tracks of all time, largely due to a surprise Debbie Harry feature. Harry and Herring compliment each other in a way that demands a full-length duet album.
Herring’s songwriting and vocals on this album are its biggest strengths, but that’s not to say the instrumentation is lacking. Each track features memorable bass, drums, and synths, but it’s hard to imagine how the album would hold up without Herring. Other synth-pop and indie rock groups spew interchangeable lyrics without believing in them. With Herring driving the boat, every song feels genuine and unique.
While “Seasons” remains undefeated as a single, The Far Field showcases the band at their best, offering a handful of songs that come close to taking the crown.4AD, Future Islands, The Far Field