Sunday, October 17, 2010

In Evening Air - Future Islands (Autumn 2010)

In Evening Air

Future Islands
Thrill Jockey Records.

SCQ Rating: 87%

Post-punk, to me, is premiere party-music. It launches out of the gate with a bass-heavy groove full of tension and uncertainty, then rides that momentum with deviations – some subtle, some grandiose – in a pattern that elicits a fully present hypnosis. New Order, Cocteau Twins; any genre that creates enough elbow-room for these two acts deserves acquisitions like Future Islands, a band capable of cutting performances and swoon-ready tempos. With a record so capably catering to very different circles, as both a party record and a break-up soundtrack, In Evening Air’s most unfamiliar association is its label, Thrill Jockey, more commonly known for structural experimentation than heart-pounding love-letters.

Future Islands’ core sound, on the other hand, feels familiar; maybe it’s the way vocalist Samuel Herring’s enunciation recalls a tortured Torquil Campbell of Stars, or perhaps it’s how the band’s take on post-punk extends beyond the tight confines of minimal synth into something scarier and more satisfying. ‘Long Flight’, which incorporates samples from the STS-1 shuttle launch, uses that discord as a dirge to alter the tempo perceived by its spritely percussion. ‘An Apology’ stretches those smoke-and-mirrors further, letting programmed drumming push on like a metronome while an unobtrusive synthesizer mans the counter-tempo. The rhythm section of J. Welmers and William Cashion are crucial, but another ingredient twists and bends the immediacy of In Evening Air: Herring’s vocal delivery. Moonlighting with a desperate rasp, Herring’s transformation from weirdo-crooner to cathartic bellower acts as a game-changer for off-kilter single ‘Tin Man’ and retro ballad ‘Inch of Dust’.

It’s that break-up-at-a-party combination again; you’ve just had your heart broken but the momentum’s so addictive, you can’t stop feeding the festive mood. Wallowing in self-pity has rarely sounded this controlled or liberating. In Evening Air’s macabre edge completes its impression as a perfect companion for autumn’s best parties and heart-heavy moments.

Future Islands - Tin Man by theQuietus

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