Getting out of the shadow cast by a famous father is a difficult feat. Just ask Julian Lennon or Jakob Dylan. In not quite the same extent, Kiwi Liam Finn feels their pain. Finn’s father, Neil, the widely respected and renowned musician from Crowded House, luckily has spread his musical genes on down the line. In cases like these, it’s uniqueness that divides the father/son relationship. There will always be members of the media that dwell on that fact, raising never ending comparisons. What Liam brings to the table for his sophomore release, FOMO, is pure unbridled musical creativity spanning genres as well as blood lines. Now, enough talk about fathers and legacies. Liam is trying to build his own, and he’s certainly on the right track where we find him at the moment.
The whiskers on Finn’s face scream folk, but on FOMO, there’s none to be seen. What we get is a mixture of the purest pop, solid psych guitar riffs (as always), and a little R&B thrown in for good measure. Compared to his debut I’ll Be Lightning, there is certainly much less aggression and more bubbliness, with the exception of ‘The Struggle’. The vibes could almost be opposites on the spectrum between lead single ‘Cold Feet’ and ‘Lead Balloon’. However, the psych influence is still placed at the base of FOMO’s pyramid, seen especially on ‘Chase the Seasons’.
Finn starts us off slow with a buildup of heavy feedback and his divine vocals on ‘Neurotic World’. Inclusions of piano and synth layer into a much more complete sound than were used to from Finn in the studio and certainly in the live setting, where he’s known for his raucous performances. ‘Don’t Even Know Your Name’ picks things up where I’ll Be Lightning left off, exhibiting the slow crescendos of vocal and guitar work with a steady beat churning the number along like a runaway train before busting through the station about a minute and a half in. The vibe gets smooth on ‘Real Late’ with Finn channeling his best inner Marvin Gaye. It’s by far the sexiest track on the album and unsurprisingly is a fantastic track to play as the night winds down.
It seems that for this release, Finn channeled all of his aggression into ‘The Struggle’, and in the overall scheme, it works well placed sixth as a palate cleanser of sorts. Otherwise, we find almost too much pop and not enough substance. Always one to end with a barn burner, rock anthem ‘Jump Your Bones’ finishes off the album with heavy feedback and a theme that even the most unaware of people could pinpoint. This is surely the track that audiences will find the live power prowess that they’ve come to expect in Finn’s live performances.
Overall, FOMO is fantastic from front to back and is certainly a grower. Every time you go back, there’s something else pulling at you that was missed in previous listens. We Austinites are lucky to have Finn in our city for a show on October 12th at the ND. Who knows that next chance we’ll get to see him in town, so be sure not to miss what will surely be an awesome show. You just might want to bring some plugs. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.