Future Islands: In Evening Air
In Evening Air is both more and less than its debut predecessor, Wave Like Home. Home, recorded three years before its full-length follow-up, is an immediate and even simple earworm party of big synthesizer hooks, clever and dynamic bass lines, and some heavy frontman theatrics. Even its slow songs are super catchy. Turns out Home ages well--synth-pop remarkable for its effortlessness and resistance to feeling retro, no matter how many New Order name drops might clog Future Islands' review dossier.
All that doting probably feels like a setup for a massive dump on the new record. Well, no. Air is a different sort of thing, less dependent on big hooks and most anything that feels that immediate. It's still a pop record, merely a very subtle and careful one. Consider it an upgrade--with a minor caveat that it feels a little bit forced. But when you release records three years apart, that's just going to happen.
The evolution of J. Gerrit Welmers' electronics/synths is especially notable. New sounds, new moods--see: the saddish calypso lament of "Tin Man," or the drawn, pretty organ and big, slow big beats on "In the Fall," in which Sam Herring not only tones his vocals down, but does it enough to allow a guest singer, Celebration's Katrina Ford. Dig bassist William Cashion totally taking a cue from the Double Dagger school of bass guitar-as-lead guitar, heavy strumming out passages of punk grit--because the album travels enough in its nine songs that a little noise gets its chance to make sense.