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Future Islands seize their chance in the spotlight

DOWN the decades, the history of music has been sprinkled with iconic TV appearances, performances that either captured the imagination of a generation or introduced an act to a wider audience in a way that proved a career-changer.

David Bowie performing Starman on Top of the Pops in 1972 is frequently listed as a life-changing moment by musicians of a certain generation, from Morrissey to Boy George, and they're not wrong.

Sometimes, some acts can just barely contain themselves given their big chance in the spotlight – Imelda May's breakout appearance on Jools Holland's annual Hootenanny springs to mind.

North Carolina, but Baltimore-based, synth-pop outfit Future Islands have been knocking around for well over a decade, with their fourth album, Singles, being picked up by iconic UK label 4AD.

However, it's a recent appearance on Late Night with David Letterman that's causing all the fuss around the band. The video for the excellent song Seasons (Waiting for You) is a lovely piece of work, being a montage of rural scenes not usually associated with acts of this type, but the live performance – dear God!


Even as the band are introduced as making their national TV debut, frontman Samuel T Herring is prowling the stage like a man ready to burst. It's impossible not to get the sense that here's someone who's waited a long time for their shot and is going to make the most of it or go down in flames. He doesn't do the latter.

Honestly, it's one of the most remarkable things I've seen in ages, Herring throwing any pretence of 'cool' to the winds and losing himself in the song to the extent that his dancing would get you arrested in most clubs, all the while thumping his chest with his fist, which you can clearly hear coming through his mike. Chance well and truly seized, sir.

> George Byrne

Singles by Future Islands is released this week on 4AD and the performance of Seasons (Waiting for You) is up on YouTube.