In Virginia, the winter has been getting steadily less bitter. Through all the talk of blizzards that engulfed the Northeastern US last week, my area unfortunately did not receive much in the way of snow. We got the short end of the stick, instead being subjected to single-digit temperatures, freezing rain, and excessive salt dumps on our roads. It’s got all of the treachery associated with winter without any of the visual splendor. Though winter is my favorite season, I’ve had a hard time dealing with this intensity of cold. That winter has been dialing it back a bit has been refreshing.
It’s fitting, then, that I’ve been listening to Future Islands’ Singles album every morning this past week, which opens with the line, “Seasons change/And I’ve tried hard just to soften you.” A lot of the album paints vivid scenes of nature in its lyrics – another high point is “A Song for Our Grandfathers,” which ruminates on the passage of time by describing the way a family’s homestead changes through the years, with images of carving one’s name in a tree within the woods, followed by “fallow fields and barren weeds” in the second verse. “Light House” is, oddly, one of the outliers in that it doesn’t include those sorts of details.
It does showcase something special, though: the other great thing about Future Islands is their frontman’s voice. Samuel Herring is a beast on the microphone. He adds so much character to already good songs. His voice is pretty dynamic, too – towards the end of the album, he even lets out screamo-type screams. Saetia they are not, but Future Islands still packs a punch and is an utter delight to listen to. Even without the visual aid of their formidable stage presence, they are still so vibrant as if they still pop out of the speakers whenever they’re on. “Light House” is probably my favorite showcase of his vocals on the album.
“Singles” is Future Islands’ debut on 4AD and is available now. You can find it digitally and physically on Amazon.