Mess+Noise review: ‘Liam Finn — FOMO’, June 2011

I review Liam Finn’s rather excellent new album ‘FOMO’ for Mess+Noise. Excerpt below.

It’s interesting to note how successfully Liam Finn has avoided comparisons with the family firm during his already extensive career. Perhaps it’s because there’s already two of them – Neil and Tim – and they took all the gas out of the discussion the first time around, or perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that Liam – from his early days with Betchadupa right through to his solo career – has always tried to achieve what he calls “first” records; records without any preconceptions.

Funny, too, that when the parallels finally become apparent on new album, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), it’s uncle Tim, and not father Neil, who Finn’s output most resembles. This is instinctive songwriting, built on offbeat ideas and left-handed delivery. It could’ve been Finn’s touring with Eliza Jane Barnes over the last couple of years, when the duo purposely tried to make every performance different, that refined this aspect of his craft. Or maybe it was working with producer Burke Reid (The Mess Hall, The Drones), who flicked past every finished song initially presented to him and reached for Finn’s grab bag of unedited musical ideas.

Either way, the confidence captured on the finished product belies both Finn’s unconventional delivery and the drawn out writing-recording process he endured. FOMO is shorter than 2008’s I’ll Be Lightning, but more focussed and – perhaps conversely – features a greater variety of songs. The whole album could almost be defined by ‘The Struggle’, the divisive cut that sits in the middle of the playlist: in a little under three minutes Finn indulges in a slice of self-reflexive mayhem that’s most unlike anything he’s ever written before. It’s a tune that could easily have come out of an early Split Enz songbook.

For the full review and to listen to a track from the album, visit Mess+Noise.

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