Neil & Liam Finn
Family is a powerful thing and the synergy you can pull from a bond like that can be a musical goldmine. In the newest record for Neil and Liam Finn, the pair mix a penchant for great pop and out-there writing to make some fresh music. This said, their inconsistent mix of these elements has the album exciting at times and drawn-out at other moments.
As the pianos open up to angelic vocals and harmonies on “Prelude – Island Of Peace,” there’s a sense of mythological beauty that lifts the track even higher. This thematic overture gets you in the right state of mind before the Finn’s start to play around. “Meet Me In The Air” takes on a much dreamier quality, with a loose psychedelic drive surrounding their lilting vocals. While much of the track is an ambient float, there’s still something utterly entrancing about it from start to finish, through its wall of sound. This translates into funky grooves on “Where’s My Room” as a little more of Liam’s quirks take over. Through their powerful bass and drums, all the bizarre effects make for a layered and exciting listen.
Though so much of the laidback and lounge qualities of “Anger Plays A Part” leave it almost too light for its own good, this sound lets each of the sharp melodies feel much more powerful. However it’s truly the song’s emotional message about the overwhelming ability of emotions that makes this song so fresh. “Listen” is a much more classic ballad, that despite its predictable progressions feels explorative thanks to its unique production. This along with the sublime harmony turns it into a track as subversive as it is overtly catchy.
“Any Other Way” approaches its piano pop with more spacey energy, and focuses on a mood rather than just hooks. This said, it ends up lacking a certain core to make it feel like something you can really sink into. The hefty grooves of “Back To Life” however do a lot more to make their sparse arrangements feel startling and fun. This contrast to the light pop gives each cry a shocking emotion and one that really stands out on repeat listens.
Finn and Finn take a journey through both of their sounds on “Hiding Place” which offers fun sonic moments while certainly standing as one of the more demanding listens of the record. This extended listen can grow tiresome if it doesn’t grab you fast admittedly, making for a much more niche track. “Ghosts” is endearingly eccentric, as growling vocals open into romantic choruses that feel spiritual to say the least. This collection of hooks with a powerful sense of aesthetic really stands as proof to how cool the Finn Family can sound when they strike a good balance in their sound.
In the slow-burn of “We Know What It Means” it’s easy to start to feel like the song drags at times, but patient listeners will see just how much the song opens up. Unfortunately with six minutes to sit through, it might be hard for all their listeners to get to the meat of the track. Though “Hold Her Close” does start similarly sparsely, the Blade Runner-esque synths offer it a much faster bit of unusual fun. Even though it can feel like one of those soft finale tracks, it does show a little more progression for their sound than many tracks on the album.
Words by Owen Maxwell