Future Islands, 'On the Water' (Thrill Jockey)

8
On the Water
Critical Mass
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Label: Thrill Jockey

by Stephanie Benson

Baltimore's Future Islands obviously were born with their ears pointed eastward to the theatrically heartbroken land of New Order, the Cure, and David Bowie. On this much-improved third album, synths swell, beats throb, and oceanic drones creep. Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner wafts through like a specter on "The Great Fire," but Sam Herring is the true phantom of this synth-pop opera, still gruffly howling like he's been forced to gargle rocks in the name of love -- a subject that devastatingly plagues him -- but also willing to settle into the grooves, even conceding that "it just takes time."

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