When Future Islands released their fourth album, 2014's Singles, the band had just nailed a Late Show appearance from which frontman Samuel T. Herring became meme-ified. Their single "Seasons (Waiting on You)" became one of the year's bona fide hits, and the Baltimore band achieved household name status.
For their fifth album, The Far Field, the trio find themselves in the position of satiating an audience that wasn't previously there. They've evolved significantly since the release of their feverish debut, 2008's Wave Like Home, but instead of messing with a winning formula, they've decided to keep moving forward with the charismatic synth-pop they established on Singles.
Central to The Far Field is its sense of immediacy. The consistent pulse that flows through these songs (most notably the motorik pacing of "Ran" and "Cave") acts like a heartbeat for the album, while William Cashion's bass lines and Gerrit Welmers' synth-y tones nicely frame the album's emotional journey. Herring's husky, governing voice is the guiding beacon.
This is pop music designed to give you all the feels, and even with a disruptive pseudo-reggae track thrown into the mix ("Candles"), Future Islands prove that they can do it better than anyone else right now.
Critics may balk at how safe The Far Field sounds, when you take into account some of the creative risks Future Islands previously took, but when you've come such a long way and found something good, why not just follow that template and get better? That's what the band have done with The Far Field, and to quote David Letterman: "I'll take all of that you got!" (4AD)