While the Baltimore band’s latest LP might retread themes and sounds found on their past records, it can’t take away from just how good it is.
For many groups, getting too comfortable in their sound can become a massive detriment, with stagnancy causing their music to become stale and forgettable. For Future Islands, nestling cozily into their comfort zone has allowed them to continue to thrive, and As Long As You Are is proof of that.
Since the release of 2014’s Singles, the Baltimore-based outfit have become more and more at home in their unique, signature blend of new wave and synth-pop elements. It’s a comfort that allows singer-songwriter Samuel T. Herring the space to write and perform his extremely self-aware and introspective lyrics in an emotionally resonant manner.
It’s for these reasons that As Long As You Are shines brightest when Herring is at his most vulnerable and open. Through his potent lyrics and powerful vocal delivery, he showcases an ability to capture and convey a depth of human emotion in an absolutely marvellous way.
Paired with the band’s synth-heavy sound, the stark contrast between the lyrical content and the music’s upbeat nature makes nearly every song a completely captivating listen from the very first track, “Glada.” The track opens with gorgeous chords and sounds of flocking birds, immediately giving the track texture, and the feeling of a fresh start. It leads perfectly into Herring’s verse, as he poetically weaves together imagery of spring’s beginnings with lyrics of a newfound romance.
“City’s Face” is another standout moment on the album, as Herring revisits an old relationship, and the toll it took on him mentally. He sings about how things ended between himself and his estranged partner, and the sense of paranoia and dread he feels maneuvering through his city as a result. As he laments on their lost love and his mental anguish, he notes how strange it is that “a person can change a city’s face.”
There are many other standouts within the tracklist as well. Specifically, the run from “Plastic Beach” to “Thrill” features some of Herring’s most acutely self-aware songwriting to date, exploring his insecurities, depression and struggles with substance abuse.
These moments of reflection build up to “Hit the Coast,” the album’s finale and moment of relief. The track features Herring anthemically singing about packing all of his belongings into a car and escaping from all of the troubles that are plaguing his life. It’s an extremely fitting closer to an album that delves so deeply into Herring’s personal struggles.
As Long As You Are doesn’t bring anything new to the table for Future Islands, but it didn’t need to. The comfort they have found in their signature sound has given them the ability to excellently execute their vision and deliver extremely moving work. This may not be the band’s best album, but it is another extremely enjoyable and emotionally impactful entry in their catalogue.
Trial Track: For Sure