Singles is always going to be an audacious title for any album, but when many of the tracks appear to simply be variations of one another, as with the most recent Future Islands’ release, it seems a bit too overconfident.
The album is an easy listen, with bright and breezy tunes that at the same time evoke a certain nostalgia. Built upon layers of synthetic rhythms and beats, it creates an electronic backdrop perfect for frontman Samuel Herring’s smooth, Dracula-esque voice.
Many of the songs seem to blend into one another, the repetitive instrumentation doing little except to add to the overall atmosphere of the album. There are a few stand out tracks however. ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ kicks off the album with driving guitars and a sturdy beat. Although the studio version lacks some of the passion and originality that made their recent performance of the track on the Late Show with David Letterman so celebrated, it is a strong and confident track. In ‘Fall From Grace’, Herring exploits his voice range, creating a dark and atmospheric mood in contrast to the milder nostalgia of the rest of the album.
The song writing throughout is simple and refreshingly unpretentious, and you get the impression that any attempt at anything smarter would upset the balance of the album. The words don’t sound clever, but they’re raw and impulsive. They allow the focus to remain on the emotion in Herring’s voice, and without any attempts at poetry acting as a distraction, it rings true.