Autobiographical Order No. 321: Future Islands – On the Water

Nobody’s bothered to study it, and there’s probably little value to be gleaned from knowing such a thing, but in my experience, people tend to cling most closely to the first album they’ve heard from an artist they like. It’s not an absolute; Metallica fans who heard the Black Album first still probably prefer Master of Puppets, and nobody’s favorite Radiohead album is Pablo Honey (and if it is they’re trolling you), but it holds true more often than not.

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. A lot of my favorite albums from my favorite bands aren’t the big ones or the consensus picks, but rather the ones that got me into them. Take Future Islands for example. Their big next-level moment came with 2014’s Singles, an album I own and love. But it’s not my favorite. No, that would be On the Water, their 2011 album that I first heard as a promo, without much prior knowledge or context going into it. And by the time I heard singer Sam Herring bellow his heroic lyrics, I was immediately captivated. It was such an odd combination—new wavey synths and this over-the-top crooner—but it worked. Man did it work.

The next year, I saw them perform at FYF Fest, and that only solidified my admiration for them. At first they seemed unassuming—Herring was making some jokes about baseball and the band looked pretty normal in the scheme of things, around 4 in the afternoon in an LA park. Then the music started and that all changed. They opened with “Give Us the Wind,” which to this day remains my favorite Future Islands song, and it was easily one of the most intense things we saw all weekend, and that included Refused and Converge.

I can’t say that the band’s next two albums were inferior or anything. Everything Future Islands does is great! But this one is still my favorite, possibly for sentimental reasons, possibly because the songs just hit me a little harder. I don’t question it, I just never lose my affection for it.

Rating: 9.2

Sound Quality: Great

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