Future Islands are proof of life beyond meme. Catapulted to fame by leader Samuel T. Herring’s gyrating hips and manic eyes on Letterman in 2014, a lot of people asked, is this actually good? Are we enjoying this? If there ever was a joke, the Baltimore group have long outgrown it. Since the talk show performance globalised them, they’ve evolved into something powerful with fifth record The Far Field.
Every blast of synth on ‘Ran’ is monolithic , bolstered by the addition of live drummer Erick Murillo. From the get-go Herring dives into his theatrics, whipping the mic cord and Cossack dancing across the Apollo stage. He never takes songs A to B, disrupting his old-romantics poetry with ad-lib yelps and death-metal growls. It’s easy to dwell long on such an enigmatic front man, but Future Islands are a unit, flicking from celebration to sorrow in a flash. So much of Future Islands’ DNA is indebted to New Order, and Herring takes a moment early on to honour the Mancunian scene for shaping their sound. Song of 2014 ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ remains the greatest weapon in their arsenal, but a frenetic rendition of ‘Vireo’s Eye’ is when the night erupts.
‘Long Flight’ is heartbreak wrapped round a pulsing beat and sees Herring throw himself to the ground and landing with a slap of his stomach, shocking the crowd at first then eliciting cheers. To some he’s playing the pantomime oaf for easy laughs, but give Herring a stage and he’ll give you everything he has. Long live Future Islands.
Check out our gallery of the show here.