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Future Islands: Wave Like Home

Future Islands: Wave Like Home

Label:Upset The Rhythm
Release Date:2008

By Michael Byrne | Posted 5/7/2008

The easiest reference is Dan Deacon: That little synth squiggly that opens Wave Like Home tells you you're firmly in cartoon Baltimore. Yet Future Islands is still fairly new in town, relocated from Greenville, N.C., last winter, and as the album moves on, it's plenty obvious they're sneaking something new into the cartoon: melodrama, and lots of it.

Sam Herring's voice doesn't have many referents--Ian Curtis as a lounge singer? (William Cashion's deep, pronounced bass keeps up a postpunk drive.) Glenn Danzig reared on the Smiths? In either case, it's belted out like it's the end of the world. If that voice initially comes out as overwrought--as in, suited for a Victorian tragedy--it winds up a startlingly affective traveling companion to Future Islands' soft synth-punk bounce. Dare say Wave Like Home is wicked good fun.

It's also much, much too short. At 27 minutes, we barely get to know this band, and just what it's capable of. Save for the slow synth noodle of opener "Pangea" and the almost comically ballading "Little Dreamer"--with bonus bird-chirp samples-- these tracks race along at a suitably Deaconesque pace. As in, you might just want to hump the stage. Breathless at the end of the record, you might find that strange--percussion here is thin to the point where it's hard to decipher if it's live or programmed (a mix of both, we suspect). The drive is coming instead from yea!-pitched synth tracers and, of course, Herring's guttural, vaguely Shakespearian-accented yowls of perfectly serviceable, if kinda undergrad, romance lyrics: "The heart grows old with you/ No one in this world could hope to take your place," etc. At first go `round, the words all pass too fast to care much, but you'll probably have this on enough for them to eventually sink in.

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