On Second Thought: Liam Finn – Fomo (2011)

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With Fomo, Liam Finn found his own voice while carrying on the family tradition of sunny pop song craft leavened with trippy experimentalism. The Finn family firm, of course, includes father Neil and uncle Tim, both of Split Endz and Crowded House fame.

Including a hint of Paul McCartney, Fomo’s sugary but offbeat melodies were delivered on a bed of overdubbed harmonies, loud psychedelic guitars, jittery Here Come the Warm Jets-style electronics, and drums, drums, drums. The production was dense, almost fussy, with textures a mile thick. Finn devoted as much attention to sound-scapes as he does to his songs.

Fortunately, the songs are winners — sharp, catchy and succinct.

Highlights include the Beatle-esque Motown work-out “Cold Feet.” Here, as throughout the LP, Liam’s pleasant sounding vocals recall dear old dad’s, but with all the rough edges left intact. But the forbear Liam recalls most is not Father Finn but Uncle Tim.

The unhinged new wave rave-up “The Struggle” is both funky and experimental. Its driving distorted vocals and bashing trashcan drums would not have been out of place on any prime “Frenzy” or “True Colours” era Split Enz album. Other stand-out tracks are the cute “fuck you” ditty “Little Words” and ’60s Brit-poppy “Reckless.”

If Fomo (Fear of Missing Out) has a drawback, it’s that Liam establishes a sonic template with his busy production early on, and rarely diverges from it. Only the country-rockish “Chase the Season” manages to break the mold. But the template is of Liam’s own devising — and it is fresh sounding, drawing as much from confessional ’90s singer songwriters like Elliott Smith as the classic pop that seems to run in his family’s blood.

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Patrick Moran

Patrick Moran

Chicago native Pat Moran is a filmmaker who has produced and written five feature films, and served as producer and editor for Western Classics, a film series hosted by actor James Best. He also writes about music for Creative Loafing Charlotte. The best job title he ever had was "part-time vampire." Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Patrick Moran
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