Future Islands return with new single, announce fifth album

Listen to Future Islands' single, "Ran," the Baltimore band's first offering from new album.

The wait for new music from Future Islands, one of Baltimore’s most prominent bands, ended late last night with the release of new single “Ran.” It is the synth-pop trio’s first offering from “The Far Field,” their album due April 7 from label 4AD. Listen to it above.

The track — with its lush atmospherics, driving bassline and singer Samuel T. Herring’s unmistakably earnest vocals — will feel familiar to both long-time listeners and newer fans who discovered the band during its breakthrough run in 2014. During that time, the trio — which also features bassist/guitarist William Cashion and keyboardist/programmer Gerrit Welmers — gave a star-turning performance of “Seasons (Waiting on You)” on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” 

Since then, their growing fanbase has wondered when new music would arrive from the band, which formed in 2006 in Greenville, N.C., and moved to Baltimore in 2008.

“The Far Field,” the band’s fifth album and first since 2014’s “Singles,” was produced by John Congleton (Wye Oak, Spoon), according to 4AD. It is the first Future Islands record to feature live drums by touring member Michael Lowry. The lone guest appearance is Blondie’s Debbie Harry, who duets with Herring on a song called “Shadows.” 

The label describes the album, which was recorded at Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound, as 12 “chest-pounding love songs and odes to the road.” 

The tracklist:

  • Aladdin
  • Time on Her Side
  • Ran
  • Beauty of the Road
  • Cave
  • Through the Roses
  • North Star
  • Ancient Water
  • Candles
  • Day Glow Fire
  • Shadows (feat. Debbie Harry)
  • Black Rose

Between “Singles” and “The Far Field,” the members have stayed busy — touring as a group, while also working on other projects. 

Cashion plays in the local instrumental duo Peals, and Welmers releases solo material under the name Moss of Aura. Herring, who raps under the name Hemlock Ernst, has collaborated on hip-hop music with Earl Sweatshirt, Clams Casino and others. Cashion and Herring also play in the band the Snails.

Future Islands will make their return to late-night TV on Feb. 9, when they perform on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

The band also announced touring plans for the spring and summer, including Europe and major U.S. festivals like Coachella Music & Arts Festival and Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. There are no current dates scheduled for Baltimore or Washington; the closest is the Fillmore in Philadelphia on May 29. 

wesley.case@baltsun.com

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