Future Islands – People Who Aren't There Anymore

Ten years after their breakthrough, Baltimore trio Future Islands continue to balance refinement with ambition

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 22 Jan 2024
  • Future Islands – People Who Aren't There Anymore
Album title: People Who Aren't There Anymore
Artist: Future Islands
Label: 4AD
Release date: 26 Jan

In case you needed yet another marker of how frighteningly quickly the years are speeding by, Future Islands will release this, their seventh studio album, almost a decade to the day since that breakthrough performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. The Baltimore outfit, already three records in by that point, haven’t looked back in the intervening ten years, and now stand as sort of elder statesmen of stately synth-pop.

The question, then, is where is there left for the trio to go? Pleasingly, People Who Aren’t There Anymore suggests there are plenty of musical roads for them still to travel. The primary avenue they head down this time is one defined by heartbreak, with both frontman Samuel T. Herring and bassist William Cashion reeling from the dissolution of long-standing relationships. The result is a pointed record resolute in its pursuit of redemption.

Opener King of Sweden has Herring defiantly reclaiming the memories of his years spent there with his last partner, while The Fight plays like a paean to the restorative power of moving on. Throughout, the group’s tried-and-true, gleaming synth-pop palette is flecked with fresh sonic ambition, particularly on slow-burning epics Corner of My Eye and The Sickness. At the centre of it all remains Herring’s fabulously expressive voice, tailor-made to spin tales of heartache.

Listen to: King of Sweden, The Fight, The Sickness