It is hard to resist the emotional synthpop sound of Baltimore-based trio, Future Islands. Even on their fourth and newest album, Singles, Future Islands can still pull the heartstrings of anyone who listens to their potent music. Meeting while studying in Greenville, North Carolina, the trio consists of Gerrit Welmers (keyboards and programming), William Cashion (bass, acoustic and electric guitars), and Samuel T. Herring (vocals). Future Islands, especially on Singles, have a sound similar to early Killers albums.
Future Islands’ performance on “Late Show with David Letterman” was a landmark for their career as it was the most viewed musical guest in the show’s history. This performance is undoubtedly a showing of the band’s powerful music, especially Herring’s singing and dancing, which seems to have had the most influence in getting the band as much attention as they have been getting recently.
Herring has a vocal delivery that is unparalleled among other singers as he has a sort of growl in his voice and conveys a certain emotional depth that is hard to find elsewhere. With songs about devastating heartbreak, Herring plays with the lyrics in a melodramatic way. He grinds his voice throughout the album and during Future Islands’ live performances, and gives off an emotion that is hard to find elsewhere. Herring’s impulsive singing seems to bring the album together as he pulls in listeners with his attitude.
With seemingly blissful melodies that leave listeners in awe, there is something about the instrumentation on Singles that sets Future Islands into something that is unique. Cashion’s bass lines have a voice of their own in this album and seems to give the band a much bigger sound. “Fall From Grace,” one of the last songs on the album, has a spotlight on Cashion’s guitar and with the slow tempo of this song, there seems to be a much more sorrowful tone on this track compared to the other songs, which is a considerable feat considering all of the songs deal with such melodramatic themes.
Leaving the listener in a cross between joy and sorrow, Future Islands is one of the few bands that can bring on so many emotions at once in one album. Whether it is the powerful vocals of Herring or the vast instrumentation by Welmers and Cashion, this album is sentimental and yet, restrained at the same time, therefore giving it an ecstatic sound to it.