Future Islands: On the Water

Future Islands
On the Water
(Thrill Jockey)

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If Future Islands could carve out their own genre, I would deem it “regal synth pop.” The Maryland group has perfected the art of combining beats and synthetic sounds into the folds of indie rock, adding a dance edge to already poignant songs.

Vocalist Samuel T. Herring’s delivery is so immediate that he sounds as though he is making an important statement with each line he sings. His enunciation is so proper, his voice so precise that as a frontman, he is able to complement the music with his lyrics rather than just performing over the instruments.

“The Great Fire” swims on to the sound of bells without once adopting a sense of urgency, and the brief musical interludes of “Open” and “(Untitled)” give Future Islands space to show off their instrumental prowess. Only a few elements are necessary to forge atmosphere from the silence. For me, the record’s finest moment is “Tybee Island,” on which the sound of the sea is just as much an instrument as anything else is on the gentle track.

Fans of dream synth will find On the Water satisfying. but it’s definitely accessible enough that people who are not really into electronica can still find something to love. The album is poppy enough to be catchy but beautiful enough to prove that Future Islands have not compromised their sound.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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