It must have been a strange feeling for Baltimore’s Future Islands as they approached their fifth album of a career that began way back in 2006. Like many, I am a fairly recent convert having stumbled upon the band after that Letterman performance back in 2014. So how does a band who’ve spent seven or so years in relative obscurity suddenly deal with a world of expectation. The Far Field is the answer and it’s a powerful one at that.
Sound wise this field is not actually too far from previous album Singles. However there are clear signs of development. William Cashion’s bass lines are as captivating as ever and the drifting synths of Gerrit Welmers are more all consuming than ever. The band have subtly popped up their sound, a move which is perhaps most evident amongst the electronic swirls of ‘Time On Her Side’ and second single ‘Cave’.
Of course it’s the charisma and demanding presence of Samuel T Herring’s hypnotic voice that makes The Far Field great. Listening to ‘Through The Roses’ I feel bad for not being able to contain my Herring-style dance moves while he sings about fear and self-harm. This is more than an album, it’s a wholly immersive experience. We dance with Samuel, we feel with Samuel. It’s pretty perfect.
As we’ve come to expect from the band, this album is as versatile as they come, transferring seamlessly from record to live television appearances. Even the jacket potato-stained Leeds University Union Refectory where I was lucky enough to catch them recently. Though I won't claim to have been able to see the iconic dance moves from deep in the abyss of bodies, they sounded as faultless as ever. Go out, buy this album, see them live, you won't regret it.