For many, it’s hard to believe Future Islands are a band with nearly a decade of shared experience and four studio albums to their name.
It was early last year when the trio – Gerrit Welmers, William Cashion and Samuel T. Herring – became household, or rather internet, names when Herring’s erratic dance routine on Letterman attracted millions of YouTube views.
That defining moment, which wrote them into internet folklore, was their cable TV debut. In some ways, that explains the outpour of emotion from Herring. After eight years, the band had a platform to showcase themselves and lurched at the chance with outstretched arms and swaying hips.
Since, life has been on a steep, upwards trajectory for the trio. They’d already signed to 4AD at the start of 2013 and hit the road in February to tour for the rest of the year. In fact, they’re a band at home on the road – their gig history is listed on their website and it’s enough to make even the most energetic feel tired.
It came as no surprise when ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ topped many ‘best of …’ lists in 2014. And Singles received a heap of acclaim from critics and fans alike.
That show on Letterman still may be their most famous (it appeared again up on my Facebook newsfeed only yesterday) but the band have put on performances of note on Later … with Jools Holland and their set was a highlight at this year’s Glastonbury.
Perhaps the only would-be downfall of the album being such an enveloping listen has been that new fans of the band may have failed to realise, and explore, the bounty that is Future Island’s back catalogue.
Wave Like Home, Future Islands first album, was recorded in 2007 and their electro-punk, synth-pop styling finally made it to the UK in 2008 thanks to label Upset The Rhythm.
In Evening Air’s release told the story of a band beginning to understand themselves. While its predecessor was clunky in parts, the second album flowed as a complete piece of art. Welmers and Cashion brought musical refinement to the album while Herring’s poetic lyrics danced around like a perfect embodiment of their creator’s dance moves.
2011 saw the arrival of On The Water which placed more importance on the instrumentation across the record. Before hand (and still, to some extent, admittedly) the name Future Islands was synonymous with Herring’s mix of growling, guttural and unrushed, soothing vocals. Their third record was the first to portray the band’s members in equal light, ‘Tybee Island’ all but drowns Herring out. In that moment, he’s almost debilitated by Welmers and Cashion. In that moment, the band found their harmony.
And then we arrive back to Singles, and where it all began – the end.
With all eyes looking at Future Islands’ future, I’d like to turn a few heads backwards, because there’s a wealth of enjoyment to be had at in Future Island’s back catalogue, which for some, will feel brand new.
Sam Grant Briggs