Review: Future Islands – As Long as You Are
National Music Reviews
As Long as You Are
Future Islands = Modern English + Metronomy + The Native
Who could forget the band that made their breakout on Late Night with David Letterman in 2014? Future Islands have come so far since then. Now, instead of being the former trio of Samuel T. Herring, William Cashion and Gerrit Welmers, Future Islands have added Mike Lowry on the drums to round out a quartet. Their last album, The Far Field, was released in 2017 and brought much attention to them. Their sixth full-length, As Long as You Are, is also the first where the band has their own production credits.
Ducks quacking and birds chirping start the album off with “Glada,” where Herring’s voice stands stoic as he sings over a technicolor tune. The deepness of Herring’s voice adds a slightly dark element to Future Islands’ sound, though his voice is soothing overall. Contrasting the opener, “For Sure” starts with sharp upbeat keys where the drums and bass seem to fizzle within the beat. “I’ll never keep you from just who you are / Because I know,” are the last words Herring sings. It shows an awareness that if his lover is waiting for him, he doesn’t want to change them.
I can get into detail with every track, but synthpop can get repetitive. Each track is unique with the message each one spits out, such as on “City’s Face,” where Herring croons about having loved the city but no longer does. The somber ending adds to how strange the city seems to him now. “Born in a War” has a cool, bottle-opening start that’s different from how most of their tracks start off.
The mixture of the grungy bass and the airy waves of the keys is what makes “Moonlight” one of my favorite tracks—this alongside with the lyrics. They manage to capture the fear of being left behind by a lover with, “So we just lay in bed all day / I couldn’t see, by the clouds in my arms / But if I ask you, would you say / It’s only rain, nothing more.” I do like that, despite how somber the lyrics sound, the tune is gentle as if it’s being careful of not hurting the other.
As Long as You Are comes to an end with “Hit the Coast.” It paints a serene closing chapter for someone: “I heard you say you didn’t need me or any of these things / These tapes / And these days they’re flying in my backseat but I’m flying and free / I’m not crying.” It shows that anyone can move on, and that we don’t always need somebody to hit the coast with.
If you want to listen to modernized ’80s synthpop, this is the album. I can’t put my finger on what makes As Long as You Are nostalgic to me, but it just does. It’s reminiscent of various feelings that anyone can experience, which can be quite hard to firmly grasp. Let yourself sink into As Long as You Are, because it will pull you in, just the way that you are. –Kimberly Portillo