They’re easy to figure out. They’re nearly universally acclaimed by music publications and live music lovers. Remember when Pitchfork named “Seasons (Waiting on You)” their song of the year in 2014? Yet, when I’ve shown the band to friends, they’ve had less than satisfactory responses. I recall encountering pals being kind of turned off by Samuel T Herring’s antics at a mid 2010s show opening for Alt J and Cage the Elephant. Those same antics so many find endearing.
As Long As You Are feels like a weird sense of normalcy that both distracts from and acknowledges this weird era. Herring’s anguished vocals seem tailor-made for turbelent times. Yet, fans and followers of indie music in general are so familiar with their sound (and Herring’s tone) that they might find comfort in it.
“Well, we don’t have live shows, but we can count on our favorite frontman to sing and growl at us still.”
“For Sure” is a logical first single for the record, which, like its predecessor “Ran,” doesn’t lead off the record but rather follows a rather unassuming opener. “Glada” didn’t wow me—it’s not as striking as The Far Field’s “Aladdin.” But this is a suitable setup for the soaring chorus of “For Sure,” which cements Future Islands’ return to the indie music realm.
“City’s Face” is a poignant, stripped back ballad that feels close to a vaporwave influenced commercial, while at the same time pointing me toward a need to take a vacation and reflect. I should do that soon, while it’s still warm-ish. “The Painter” is another memorable moment, weaving together a soundscape just as colorful as its title suggests. “Thrill” is probably the most anguished moment of the album, with Samuel T Herring musing “Nobody gonna pick me up / I’m falling down.” He sounds on the verge of tears, his voice shaking as bass lines accentuate the conflict within. These are all “only when the mood strikes” kind of songs, but never fear—there are plenty of “typical Future Islands” moments on the record as well.
As Long As You Are is an album fitting for the moment but would be wholly normal for Future Islands to release even if this year were vastly different.