Review: Future Islands - 'In The Evening Air'

If it means anything, this was the first album I had heard in a while that made me want to come out of a writing 'hiatus'. Well, that and a break from classes.

Future Islands is a synth-pop band (they use the term post-wave) that explores the darker regions of early Killers and TV on the Radio territory. Lush-soundscapes fill the tracks while still allowing breathing room for the songs to flex.

On the opening track 'Walking Through That Door', the synth hook is immediate. Lead vocalist Samuel T. Herring sings with a controlled urgency that juxtaposes against the reeling squeal of the key-laden chorus. Each track has it's own personality yet, the cohesion binding everything together is strong.

'Long Flight' displays a bit of a tribal influence to the percussion but, the drive stays true to a dark-corner disco sound. Spanning the track, an echoed, steel-drum line leads the rhythm. Some sound motifs reappear on later tracks without becoming repetitive. This is especially true with the third song, 'Tin Man', which I see as being the playlist single that brings in the new listeners. 'I am the Tin Man', Herring proclaims over a buzzing wave of fuzz and rapid fire guitar attacks before ceding to it's conclusion, burning out with a ferocious blast of sound.

Setting up a hazy dreamscape, the title track, rather than going the usual route of setting itself up as a lead single instead acts as a break in the album. 'In The Evening Air' is a short one-minute (and 15 second) intermission that creates a buffer between the album's two sides without breaking up the familiarity of sound. It leads into 'Swept Inside' which is reminiscent of Arcade Fire's 'Rebellion (Lies)' with it's anthemic, driven bass-line. But, a sped-up drum tempo makes it a great, mellow dance track.

If you love 80's music, 'Inch of Dust' will be your song. Conjuring some Bowie vocals over a simple and drawn out bass-snare drum beat, the band always makes sure to pepper in little bursts of electronic rain drops before pushing the throttle again.

'Vireo's Eye' returns Future Islands to the epic sounding intro lines that may be their best selling point for new fans. While not fully bringing the album out of the clouded atmosphere, the track opens things up for a moment of sunlight.

The final song is the culmination of the LP – the way a solid one should conclude. A great dance groove and textured sample driving the bass and vocals while somber lyrics keep 'As I Fall' grounded before it melts away, leaving the last two minutes to deconstruct the composition into a moaning, brooding section of strings.

Rating: 8.9/10

Key tracks: 'Tin Man', 'Walking Through That Door', 'Swept Inside'


There has been some slight underground buzz that this is an early contender for album of the year and, while still early, I can't say it's unwarranted. But, while this isn't the band's first album, it's definitely going to be their 'coming out' one.

If you're in LA, they are playing at an art space on Melrose called Sync Space on 5/21 -and let's face it, seeing an artsy band at an art compound is always cool. Right?

'In the Evening Air' is out on Thrill Jockey on 5/4.

MySpace: www.myspace.com/futureislands

'Tin Man'