Written by Matthew Lipson.
On their fourth album, ‘Singles’, Baltimore synth-pop trio Future Islands have truly mastered the unique blend of pulsating beats, warm, accessible synths, driving bass lines and primal vocals that made them so endearing on previous releases.
Gone are the tender sounds of water and wind cushioning the beginnings and endings of the songs from their previous release, ‘On The Water’; on ‘Singles’, the listener is immediately dropped into a sprawling synthscape with little time to recover between tracks. The title of the album is completely indicative of what one can expect from ‘Singles’ – a collection of upbeat earworms each with its own unique flavour and energy.
The album begins with a bang; “Seasons (Waiting On You)” is an uncompromising pop gem with vocalist Samuel Herring in top form. Surely among the most unique voices of recent times, Herring’s gruff, primal growl is magnetic and beautifully accented by the bright, grandiose instrumentation of his bandmates. “Fall From Grace” is another clear highlight, with a somewhat more downbeat, foggy energy that builds up to Herring’s haunting, cold-sweat-inducing screaming fits.
Overall, ‘Singles’s is a masterful collection of synthpop treasures that is destined to be remembered as one of the great breakthrough albums of the genre. Future Islands have achieved a cleaner and danceable sound, resulting in an absolutely thrilling experience.