Liam Finn: The Nihilist (Liberation)

 |   |  1 min read

Liam Finn: Dreary Droop
Liam Finn: The Nihilist (Liberation)

What a remarkable year it has been so far in New Zealand music: bristling pop-rock from Clap Clap Riot, Grayson Gilmour's multi-layered album, singer-songwriter Greg Fleming stretching himself in various directions  . . .

And now this excellent entry from Liam Finn, one of the sons of a senior statesman whose most recent album Dizzy Heights is among that favourites list.

Critics rightly don't want to make reference to father Neil because quite clearly Liam has been his own man on an independent path from the days of his first band betchadupa. But frankly I can't help notice both father and son on their respective albums have discovered the lightlydelic virtues of a dreamy falsetto (here on the appropriately entitled Snug as Fuck where the key musical component is prominent and melodic bass).

But this Finn also puts on his experimentalist hat to get further and further out (the funky-to-clattery title track with surreal lyrics) and his guitar playing reaches a new and much higher threshold.

When he plays a rather more straight bat to pop, as on Helena Bonham Carter, he interpolates witty references -- he can't have done the ELO-styled backing vocals without knowing -- yet it is the more dreamscape songs (Ocean Emmanuelle, Dreary Droop) which are the most enticing. The rather weird and trippy I is a standout.

However the diversity here also allows for some real rock manoeuvres as on Burn Up the Road, and Finn -- who plays dozens of instruments -- can walk a line between pop and rock and challenging textures (Wild Animals).

With his small band, it will be interesting to see how some of these multi-textured songs can be delivered live. 

This album is not an unmitigated success (Wrestle With Dad sounds like a thin idea given a studio duff-up to carry it) but it is certainly another remarkably assured, interesting and rewarding album by a New Zealander this year.

I have no doubt it will appear in that Favourite Five list next week, which raises the question: Who would then be bumped? 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Lauren Thomson: Our Love is Due (Pure)

Lauren Thomson: Our Love is Due (Pure)

True story: I received this five-song EP before Christmas, played it a bit then put on the "get to" pile -- which meant it was ignored in the Christmas shuffle. The other day I pulled... > Read more

British Sea Power: Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)

British Sea Power: Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)

IN the current roll call of great bands out of Blighty, the fascinating and heroically named British Sea Power seem to have gone woefully overlooked. Their intelligence and musical curiosity... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BACKBEAT, ASTRID KIRCHHERR AND THE YOUNG BEATLES ON FILM (1994): The Birth of the Beat

BACKBEAT, ASTRID KIRCHHERR AND THE YOUNG BEATLES ON FILM (1994): The Birth of the Beat

His letters back home don’t tell the whole story. But such letters seldom do. He says there are plenty of girls “but none of us can be bothered” and that he is “not the... > Read more

San Francisco to Sacramento: The road less travelled

San Francisco to Sacramento: The road less travelled

Bill Foster never saw an animal he didn't like. And like so much that he'd shoot it, have it's head chopped off and stuffed, and brought back to his bar in smalltown Rio Vista, halfway between San... > Read more