People Who Aren’t There Anymore (4AD)
Spacious and tasteful, Future Islands carry every part of their almost-20-years in an album that reckons with middle-aged heartbreak. The often-sardonic delivery of tracks like The Thief, reminiscent of David Berman, informs that lockdown had given them a rare opportunity to stew on the past: “Treasures you went and buried deep in the drawer”. This also cleverly evokes Future Islands’ use of classic synthesizers: their pretty, bouncy melodies are never overworked, and prove a highly listenable contrast with lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s grizzled vocals.
These prove particularly striking in its moments of grief, as “running into the white” on the impassioned Corner Of My Eye. Closer The Garden Wheel is the best evocator of its cathartic tone, likening the creation of the album to laborious agriculture (“How we worked to till the soil”). An album of intriguing juxtapositions, Future Islands set pleasant synth beats behind a stark exploration of their emotional bruises.
words BILLY EDWARDS