The only time overly specific genre labels work is when bands create them for themselves. Case in point: Future Islands, Dan Deacon’s more serious playmates from Baltimore’s Wham City scene, pigeonhole themselves as “post-wave,” and present their Thrill Jockey debut as evidence. They’re totally correct. New-wave influence abounds on In Evening Air, with singer Samuel T. Herring’s melodramatic vocals, lost-love lyrics, and downcast dance beats. Then there’s the post-punk austerity of guitar and bass lines and the playful incorporation of stripped-down Caribbean grooves (via synthesizer) to fill the other half of the hyphen. For a perfect encapsulation of both influences, spin “Swept Inside.” And yet, this is also dance music, out of Baltimore’s wacky environs no less (see: Dan Deacon, Animal Collective, and Ponytail), and North Carolina transplants Future Islands incorporate that sense of weird fun, too. Herring’s occasional foray into Tom Waits’s “I gargle with cigarette butts” vocal stylings and J. Gerrit Welmers’s intentionally off-kilter synthesizer lines make songs like “Tin Man” a joy rather than a downer. With that winking approach to earnest music plus their hyperkinetic live performances, maybe Future Islands should consider tacking on one more hyphen to their style and creating the “post-wave-rave” genre. — Callie Enlow
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