Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

9. Future Islands

It may have all begun with a performance of their single "Seasons (Waiting On You)" on The Late Show, but Future Islands' Singles was so much more than a viral moment. New to many at the beginning of the year, Future Islands were three albums deep when they dropped their fourth, Singles, in March. While their previous releases were well received, and built them a modest but loyal following, the Baltimore trio seemed to save something extra special for their 4AD debut. Like a greatest hits compilation, Singles lived up to its name: it featured ten songs, each of single calibre.

The passion and new romantic sophistication of "Seasons" spread throughout the album like some magnificent plague. From the pulsating synths of "Spirit" to the stirring climax of "A Dream Of You And Me," this was as perfect as synth-rock not made in the 1980s gets. Via word of mouth and blog love, Future Islands also became one of the year's must-see live bands. With the presence of a leaner Jack Black, frontman Samuel T. Herring shuffles like a madman hell-bent on earning the love and adoration of his audience. And yet on Singles his presence is so strong you can feel all of this. (Cam Lindsay)