Future Islands - ‘Moonlight’ Review

Label: A4D

Release Date: 15th September 2020

Rating: 7/10

"The subdued production and slow metre cleverly set the atmosphere for intimate and in some ways, heart-wrenching lyrics."

Future Islands (via Facebook).

American synthpop band Future Islands, comprised of Samuel T. Herring, Gerrit Welmers, William Cashion, and Michael Lowry, have released their new track ‘Moonlight’, ahead of their upcoming studio album As Long as You Are.

Following the lead single ‘For Sure’, which is upbeat and driving, and slower, synthy second release, ‘Thrill’, ‘Moonlight’ maintains the more mellow production of its counterparts. The contrast between the opening high-pitched falling synth keyboard motif and the bass riff and percussion accompaniment creates an almost dreamlike state, setting the tone for very bare and repetitive production for the rest of the three-and-a-half-minute song. This is very far removed from the opening of ‘For Sure’, which sounds as if it belongs on a dance track.

Considering the band have stated that ‘Moonlight’ is about “love in a depressive state”, the subdued production and slow metre cleverly set the atmosphere for intimate and in some ways, heart-wrenching lyrics. In terms of sound, the aesthetic that they chose certainly does achieve the meaning they imposed on the track.

Lyrically, Herring’s writing is very simple, at times repetitive, matching its pensive production. “Here’s our chance to make it / Make this into something more / Here’s my heart don’t break it / It’s all that I ask / Nothing more” is an extremely honest proposal of not letting an opportunity go despite everything, and that all the narrator is asking for is love in return. In the second verse, Herring sings “I couldn’t see, by the cloud in my arms / But if I ask you, would you say / It’s only rain”. To me, this is a beautiful way of articulating someone asking their partner for the problems that overwhelm them to not be seen as anything other than an easily beaten obstacle, like rain.

As for the rest of the song, the words “nothing more” and “here I lay me down” repeat, almost as if the narrator has been frozen, repeating over and over that all they want is the other person, and for them to accept them in this depressive state. It’s quite a sombre ending; one fit for the minds of many of us in 2020.

‘Moonlight’ is graceful and genuine, but I fear that if the tracklisting places it around songs of a similar metre, it may get lost in a dreary haze. Hopefully, much of the rest of the album will range from ‘Thrill’ to ‘For Sure’ in pace, so ‘Moonlight’ and its saddening tranquillity don’t get labelled as monotonous.

Words by Sarah Jewers.

20th September 2020.

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