Review

Future Islands

People Who Aren’t There Anymore

4AD • 2024

It is a well-known fact that a band’s latest album is always their best. They have matured over time, developed musically and given their all to present the highlight of their career. In the case of Future Islands’ seventh LP, however, the lofty praise seems to have some truth to it. »People Who Aren’t There Anymore« is one of the deeper and more emotional albums in the Baltimore synth-pop band’s nearly two-decade history. First and foremost is the striking voice of Samuel Herring, who shares his inner self with the audience and breathes dreamy melodies into it, only to sing his heart out in the next moment. The title was inspired by the illustration created by the US artist Beedallo that now adorns the cover of the record.

After almost twenty years of existence, the band look back on changes and lost friendships and the general transience of life. This works best on the quieter tracks on the album, which use 2/4 time and organ synths to inspire stand-up blues. The album is in no way discouraging, however, and most of the twelve songs are danceable numbers with the potential to catch on. The powerful openers »King of Sweden« and »The Tower« testify to this and are both wistful and hopeful at the same time. The high drama culminates about halfway through the album, when sci-fi sounds meet plaintive vocals and at times recall M83’s fulminating »Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming«. More heartbreak would be impossible, and that’s a good thing.