Samuel T Herring’s hiccupping vocal mannerisms recall the late-night ennui of Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples, and what Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer might once have described as “singing in the club style”. Along with Herring’s distinctive delivery, Future Islands’ appeal rests on their anthemic love songs. The Baltimore band’s 2014 single Seasons (Waiting on You) topped end-of-year polls, and tracks on The Far Field such as Cave share a similar tempo, wearily lovelorn lyrics and impassioned pitch. Then there’s William Cashion’s Peter Hook-ish bass, which often seems like the lead instrument, bubbling around amid washes of synth. But while their fifth album is not a giant leap forwards, all their essential elements are intact and thriving, and it reaffirms their mastery of modern synthpop. There’s not a great deal of variety, though the lovers’ rock of Candles creates some breathing space. And Debbie Harry duets with Herring on Shadows, sounding more Marianne Faithfull/grande dame than the Blondie pop princess of old.
Future Islands: The Far Field review – thriving masters of modern synth-pop
Jon Dennis is Guardian's multimedia production editor and also writes about music.