Baltimore-by-way-of-Greenville, N.C. trio Future Islands is darkly romantic and dreamy, both heart-on-sleeve and somehow adrift from emotion on a cool, untroubled sea. But, for all the swelling melodies and echoey percussion, this is electro-pop with feet planted equally in the future and in the past.
It's Samuel T. Herring's reverberating baritone — a vocal that recalls Morrissey and New Order — that takes the listener back three decades. Though, in its retrospection, the band remains unfettered by nostalgia and any of the chintzy trappings that say '80s. It's that essence, the nocturnal haunting, that runs through Future Islands’ sound.
There's also the fact that the band's new album, On the Water was recorded literally on the water (in Elizabeth City, N.C.'s historic Andrew S. Sanders House). Dance beats and washes of synthesizers are underscored by the ebb and pulse of waves and the clean ion-rich atmosphere of ocean air. On the Water breathes as much as it rocks.
Future Islands' current tour stops in Asheville (they play Broadway’s on Wednesday, Feb. 1) before heading off to Europe.