Future Islands, TR/ST and More January 2024 Music

Album covers for Future Islands People Who Aren't There Anymore and TR/ST EP
Album covers for Future Islands People Who Aren’t There Anymore and TR/ST EP

It’s Saturday morning on the last weekend of January and I’m listening to the new Future Islands album, People Who Aren’t There Anymore, for at least the third time since it dropped the previous day. I’m thinking about which songs might turn up in my DJ sets soon. I’ve yet to make up my mind. 

Sometimes, I listen to a new release and know immediately which song I’ll claim for my sets. That was the case when I heard TR/ST’s new EP the previous day. I wasn’t even fully awake when I pulled it up on Bandcamp, but was somehow cognizant enough to have very clear opinions on the songs. “Robrash,” which actually came out in December, was an obvious banger, but too stompy for my tastes. “Run,” featuring Cecile Believe, would probably do well on the dance floor, but the vocals give me Electric Daisy Carnival flashbacks, so I’ll pass. That cover of “Being Boring,” though, is gorgeous and exactly what I would play.

“Being Boring” is originally a Pet Shop Boys song from the 1990 album Behaviour. In multiple interviews, Neil Tennant has said that it’s about reflecting upon his own youth and a friend who died of AIDS. It’s a beautiful song, really one of the best the Pet Shop Boys have ever made. Despite it being such a personal song emanating from a very specific moment in time, the lyrics tap into a sense of nostalgia and melancholy that probably resonate with a lot of listeners today. TR/ST’s version is a duet with Jake Shears that builds in intensity as the track progresses. I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to play it out, but I can’t wait to give it a spin. 

With People Who Aren’t There Anymore, I can’t cancel out any of the songs. Even the more sedate one on the album, like “The Thief” and “Iris,” are funky enough to drop early in the evening. And the actual slow songs, like “Corner of My Eye” and “The Fight,” are basically ‘80s-style prom jams. Who knows when you’ll need something that sounds like it’s from the scene of a John Hughes movie that was never made? 

Maybe I should just drop the whole album into my Rekordbox folders and see what happens. But the thing about music now is that it’s really easy to forget what’s out there. Like, at some point on Saturday, I remembered that I had Christine and the Queens cover of “Stayin’ Alive,” plus “Green Banana” from Lee “Scratch” Perry and Shaun Ryder and “Anthem for Those Who Know” by Kárryn on my overflowing Bandcamp wishlist, but haven’t bought any of them yet, so I got those, plus Shannon and the Clams’ new song “The Moon Is in the Wrong Place.” 

The other thing about music in our current timeline is that there’s an expectation for releases to hit as soon as they street. It’s viral or nothing. So, our timelines become overloaded with the musical equivalent of Marvel movies and if you aren’t offering your half-assed hot take on the pop phenomenon of the moment then you aren’t relevant. Meanwhile, all the other new music that exists— and there’s a lot of it— gets buried in the algorithm so you’ll find out that the bands you actually like have played your town the day after the show. It’s such a stupid mess. 

That’s why I’m writing this down and posting it (and keeping a Spotify playlist). Maybe it will help me remember that I need to listen to Pendulum a few more times to figure out if there’s a Twin Tribes song other than “Monolith” that I want to play, even though I’m pretty sure there is and it’s “Sangre de Oro.” Or, that there’s a song called “Y2J” by a band called Peel that caught my attention because of how it twists from a shoegaze intro into an indie dance track.

And, maybe, if I mention that “HER” by French Police has a “Blue Monday”/“Our Love” drum thing in it, maybe one of the regulars will see that and request it so that I don’t forget to play it at a gig soon. 

Or, maybe I’ll remember the thing that I nearly forgot when I finished writing this post, which was a few days after I started it. “Give Me the Ghost Back.” That’s the Future Islands track for me. On Saturday, maybe when I listened to People Who Aren’t There Anymore, I closed my eyes for a second during that song and saw feet moving so quickly. Then I blinked my eyes open and thought, “Maniac!” Y’know, the song from Flashdance. It’s probably a weird comparison, but it makes sense to me. At least it will until I change my mind. 

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.