Future Islands manage to filter pop music through an odd prism of the past. Modern synthesizers carry the aesthetics of classic mo-town records, and that’s backed up with Samuel T. Herring’s vocals that sound absolutely nothing like, and yet encapsulate, the feel of a soul singer.
Born In A War is a perfect example. If you break down elements of the track, they don’t quite make sense out of context; especially the vocals, which in isolation sound like they come from a completely different genre. But when you put them together the result is a well crafted pop track with plenty of soul.
BadBadNotGood are a Jazz Quartet for the modern generation. Their influences span multiple genre especially Hip hop and because of this they have become a regular collaborators with some of the biggest current Hip hop acts in the world.
Their own albums also show this willingness to adapt and morph between styles and genre for the sake of the track. It leads to a versatility and unpredictability in their work that is always refreshing to the listener.
On Time Moves Slow, laid back soul music is clearly the main influence. Future Islands Samuel T. Herring providing the vocals to a bed of lush organs, gutar and drums with a natural swagger that really give the track an organic sense of place. It’s the atmosphere that’s created that really elevates this track. Talking you to a world of dark smokey clubs and late night recording studios. It’s a sound that’s missing from a lot of modern production as technologies and cost have removed the more natural sounds of people playing in a room together and It’s great to hear it still existing on tracks like this:
Future Islands create a working mans synthpop which seems developed from a strong gigging ethic.
What puts them above the crowd is Samual T. Herring whose voice has a range of tonality somewhere between soul and death metal. His enthusiasm and honesty are conveyed perfectly in live performance.
He may dance like a loon but it’s a loon who is totally wrapped up in the music and this live performance on Letterman is a perfect example of what they achieve when firing on all cylinders:
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