Whether it is with a sense of irony, just a happy coincidence or a chronological anomaly, 'The Far Field', Future Islands latest, and best, album to date, is packed full of potential singles. (The band's fifth album, and second for 4AD, rather aptly follows on from their 2014 breakthrough release, 'Singles'). This is an album many a band would be happy to have as their greatest hits and one surely to feature atop the end of year lists.
In the ensuing three years since the band's last release they have not only toured extensively but they have also seemingly honed their song craft to deliver up some really rather superb songs. With 'The Far Field' Future Islands have found their musical elixir and skilfully evolved their USP and in doing so have conjured up twelve new songs of stunning quality.
From the album opener, 'Aladdin', it is clear that Future Islands have taken a real fillip from the success of their previous release. The sound and production have a confidence and an attitude that exude passion and belief. There are some fabulous performance pieces amongst the twelve tracks. The hooks are glorious, the rhythms brilliantly built and the delivery is absolutely magnetic.
'Time On Her Side' starts a run of seven consecutive tracks on 'The Far Field' that are just unbelievably good. With the enunciation and delivery of a Shakespearian actor front man Samuel T. Herring takes centre stage to command and enthral with every word. The electro infused set hurtles along without pause. The band's latest single, 'Ran' follows with its machine gun percussion, impassioned vocals and breakneck beat before 'Beauty Of The Road' slows the pace a little. Verse and chorus, melody and harmony are all in sync as Herring recounts the pitfalls of a life on the road, "Oh at last!, you're here in my arms again. And I don't know how long so I won't waste a bit. The beauty of the road-is lost in your eyes-so I drift."
The immediacy and engagement continue through a swathe of synths on 'Cave' and a tender melancholy on, 'Through The Roses'. With the slight air of an 80's throwback Future Islands have brought together well crafted electro in a (no slight intended) commercial guise that is both artistic and very appealing. This is unapologetic, intelligent electro-pop with a broad appeal and it's fantastic.
The playful, funkier, beats of 'North Star' lead out another album highlight. This track is one of the defining moments on 'The Far Field'. With its infectious hooks, well versed lyrics and beautifully balanced production the track captures the very essence of the album. It's a succinct package of articulately arranged, artistically sagacious and very entertaining music. 'Ancient Water' closes out the seven with a touch more reserve and an element of regret as William Cashion's bass bubbles under the sublime keyboards of Gerrit Welmers.
To add just a tad more to the already special album the penultimate track delivers up another treat. 'Shadows' broods and builds as Herring's vocals kick in before he is joined to trade lyrics with no other than Debbie Harry. Harry's vocals sit wonderfully aside the Future Islands front man as they whip up a glorious musical partnership that fits surprisingly well.
The idiosyncratic and charismatic Baltimore trio have recently celebrated their tenth anniversary and have certainly put in the ground work to deserve their break. Work shy they are not. With 'The Far Field' they should hopefully find themselves propelled into the public consciousness like never before. To use an age old, over used, clichéd but apposite phrase, 'The Far Field' is without a shadow of a doubt "all killer, no filler." If I had to put a number on it, at least eight of the twelve tracks on their latest album could be released as singles. To date, undoubtedly my album of the year.