Future Islands

Singles (4AD)

Rating: NNNN

Be careful with Future Islands’ current single, Seasons. It’ll end up on your iTunes Top 25 Most Played faster than the band’s David Letterman appearance went viral on YouTube. It’s as if Bruce Springsteen did a mid-tempo synth-pop song, an über-vulnerable finger-snapper. Except even the Boss couldn’t be as exposed and captivating as the Baltimore trio’s singer, Samuel T. Herring.

The record’s arrangements are simple – a humming bass line usually swims in smooth synths – all the better for Herring to show his range. Seasons finds him sounding like a raspier Elton John. On Doves, he’s throaty and desperate. On Back In The Tall Grass theatrical and articulate. Never does he reach the animalistic growls we’ve caught live, but on Fall From Grace he manages bursts of caustic wailing more suited to a noise band – and a nice contrast to the laid-back vibe.

There’s nothing super-dark about Singles, but Herring has a tragic underdog quality. Beneath catchy pop hooks, there’s deep-rooted pain in these love songs.

Also of note: nostalgic familial tear-jerker A Song For Our Grandfathers.

Top track: Seasons

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