Fink

Hard Believer

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

After two live dates cut for the long-suffering faithful, Fink -- comprising singer/songwriter/guitarist Fin Greenall, bassist Guy Whittaker, and drummer Tim Thornton -- offer their first new studio material in three years. Hard Believer is, for the most part, a slow burner; one that employs a more varied, albeit moodier set of textures and sounds than its predecessor, 2011's Perfect Darkness. Recorded at Hollywood Sound with producer/engineer Billy Bush (Garbage, Foster the People), the pace here is generally slow -- even dirge-like in places -- but the timbral palette that illustrates these melancholy songs puts them across in often unexpected ways. The opening title track begins on the blues tip (with Greenall once more revealing his great debt to guitarist Davy Graham). Spare, gently reverbed acoustic guitar and stomp box initiate, but at a tad over a minute in, a multi-tracked vocal chorus subtly enters, followed shortly thereafter by kick drum, skeletal bassline, electric guitar, more echo, piano, and more lathered-on effects to erect a stoned crescendo inside the repetitive-to-the-point-of-hypnosis groove. On "Green and the Blue," jazzy-folk (à la John Martyn), meets dubwise rhythm painted by a swirling textural buildup via piano, synth, and stacked backing vocals, delivering a pronounced sense of drama. Speaking of dub, it's the primary vehicle in the steamy "White Flag." Bass, tom-toms, and heavily edited guitar chords create a frame for the vocals as other instruments appear and vanish seemingly at random in the humid mix. Clearly, Greenall's previous occupation as a DJ comes in handy here, even when tempos and rhythms are relatively static. The tortoise-like pace in the lion's share of these cuts creates not only an atmosphere, but underscore the emotional heft in Greenall's lyrics. That said, a few tracks -- "Pilgrim," "Shakespeare," and "Looking Too Closely" -- shake things up a bit. Their midtempo, nearly rockist dynamics and sprawling production result in Fink coming dangerously close to terrain inhabited by Coldplay. On "Too Late" and "Truth Begins," the use of slight yet idiosyncratic and deft pop hooks adds a sleight-of-hand dimension that escapes the traps of those numbers. Song to song, Hard Believer is an emotional bummer but it doesn't suffer from sophomoric self-indulgence; instead, the hazy, gauzy, often open-ended production and arrangements reveal that this group won't be reined in by a single approach and that a "signature" sonic trademark is far too confining a place to reside. It's the world of sound that creates individual homes for the tunes. As such, there is a widening sense of exploration at work here; the considerable benefit of that aesthetic is clear even when it falls a tad short of the mark.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:46 Amazon
2 4:33 Amazon
3 5:42 Amazon
4 5:08 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick