The Far Field is the fifth album by Greenville, North Carolina synth-pop band Future Islands. In contrast to their 2014 album Singles, The Far Field is constructed like a conceptual album divided in two halves. For the first six tracks, the musical arrangements are almost identical – soft synth intros with no commanding riffs, an almost rhythmic baseline, and a medium-up tempo beat accompanied by the now infamous dramatic vocal renditions of lyricist and vocalist Samuel Herring, whose singing reminds me more and more of Bronski Beat’s Jimmy Somerville. These first six songs could be heard as a long piece divided in six chapters, each one carefully blending into the next one. The second half of the record varies in tempo and composition style. Here’s where the record experiments with odd beats and guest vocalists. It’s more like a respectable sequel to their previous album, Singles. In a way I feel the band is holding back musically in many moments (playing almost background music) to emphasize Samuel Herring’s vocal delivery and the devastatingly beautiful lyrics. The Far Field is one of those albums that will take several listening sessions to grow on you. Nevertheless, fans of the band will be intrigued with the new direction and new fans will be able to discover one of the best singers/showman in the world. I’m sure Future Islands has a lot more to offer us in the near future.
RIYL: Bronski Beat, Drab Majesty, Ultravox, The War On Drugs and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Architecture & Morality.
1. (4:13) Aladdin – Quiet intro, commanding vocals. Future Islands trademarks everywhere. Tracks slows down at 3:37, just strings.
2. (3:39) **Time On Her Side – First great track of the album. Pop beauty.
3. (3:26) ***Ran – The masterpiece in The Far Field. Inspired and generous.
4. (4:09) **Beauty Of The Road – Electro pop with a 1980s edge. Solid.
5. (3:52) *Cave – The dancing continues. Memorable.
6. (3:15) Through The Roses – Medium tempo track. Great lyrics.
7. (3:35) North Star – Medium-up tempo recording with a funky sound. Evoking 1980s dance pop.
8. (3:56) Ancient Water – Medium-up tempo tune. Could be a Singles B-side.
9. (3:57) *Candles – Minimalist slow track. Quite different.
10. (3:49) *Day Glow Fire – Catchy melody, catchy riffs. Medium-up tempo.
11. (4:05) **Shadows [feat. Debbie Harry] – Devastatingly beautiful. Medium-up tempo.
12. (3:25) *Black Rose – More of the Future Islands trademarks here. Medium-up tempo. Haunting.