Words by Jeff Obermeyer
The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 3)
We stopped by FM Belfast’s Reykjavik office in November to pick up a copy of the band’s newest album, Island Broadcast. There to welcome us was artist and band member Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir. During the course of our visit, we asked what she thought about all the construction cranes visible outside her window and the changes to the downtown cityscape. She compared it to living in the movie Dark City, where every morning you wake up to find that things have changed somehow overnight. She also noted, with a sigh, that she missed some of the buildings the same way she would an old friend.
That mood can be found throughout Island Broadcast – its beats and chords seemingly slow down just a bit, giving the whole thing a certain languid quality, like being lost in a dream. It would be easy for an album like this to become morose. But that is not who FM Belfast are. In fact, if Ihad to describe Island Broadcast in one word, it would be ‘hope’.
The message of hope permeates the lyrics of the album’s 11 songs. Right from the opening track, ‘All My Power’, we’re asked to help one another escape the lethargy we feel –‘Would you mind / Helping me up / Helping me up / I’ve been in bed all day…’ –setting the tone for what’s in store. And if that is too ambiguous for you, the second song, ‘Follow Me’, makes it crystal clear: ‘Don’t give them what they want / They’ll always ask for more / They can’t have you happy / They need your desperation’. But don’t worry, friends, because there is hope in the very next verse: ‘You’re no longer blind / You can follow me / I can open your eyes / You don’t have to be in the dark.’
The lyrics are only one part of the equation, though. You don’t become the world’s best party band without great music, and sonically, Island Broadcast provides a level of diversity that is often lacking in electronic-based albums. Certainly, the beats are great, but it’s the flourishes that give the songs their individual character. Whether it is the piano on ‘Up All Night’, the sampling on ‘Fearless Youth’, or the tropical vibe of the steel drums on ‘You’re So Pretty’, FM Belfast consistently finds a way to make each song unique. In live performances, they pick up the tempo, feeding off the energy of the crowd and transforming the songs from messages of hope to celebrations of it, and this creates a positive party atmosphere that is like a shot of pure dopamine to the brain.
FM Belfast has given us a gem in Island Broadcast – an album with an important and positive message that is also a lot of fun to listen to! And what more can you really ask for from your music?
FM Belfast – Island Broadcast:
1. All My Power
2. Follow Me
4. Up All Night
6. You’re So Pretty
8. Leave A Mark
9. Fearless Youth
11. The Game