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“I can see the light coming,”
am 27. August 2014
...growls Fin Greenall, the mastermind behind Fink, at the start of Hard Believer. It’s an oddly optimistic note to start on for an album clearly rooted in heartbreak.
Since the release of his 2000 debut Fresh Produce, Fink’s been hard to classify, making everything from electronic funk to bluesy acoustic rock, and recording as both a solo producer and as part of a three-piece band. You could expect an album from such a constantly changing artist to lack direction and focus, but that’s not the case here, Greenall, once again working as part of a three-piece with Tim Thornton and Guy Whittaker, clearly sure exactly what he wants to deliver. Hard Believer’s a solid set of 10 songs predominantly drawing on blues and folk, Greenall’s pain depicted with excellent impassioned lyrics. It’s a million miles away from the music of the DJ and electronic producer.
As an album, Hard Believer’s a slow starter, not really grabbing attention until the fourth track, Pilgrim, the first time Fink fully showcases his ability to paint a vivid emotional picture. From here on in, the anger and aggression underpinning the album’s lyrics is palpable. Two Days Later simmers menacingly, never quite breaking. That tension, unfortunately, dissipates immediately with the following Shakespeare. Not the first singer-songwriter to take on Romeo and Juliet, Fink’s attempt seems played out and uninspired, breaking up what’s an otherwise well thought out album with what seems a little like a gimmick.
The album’s standout track and lead single Looking Too Closely picks things back up and puts the album back on track. “This is a song about somebody else,” Greenall pitifully insists over sorrowful piano chords and an insistent riff.
It’s a strange album to be associated with Ninja Tune (it’s released on Ninja Tune subsidiary R’COUP’D), a label usually associated with hip hop and dance. It can also drag at times. While it’s clear Fink’s tried to create a specific atmosphere, it’s possible he tried a bit too hard and lost some of the album’s emotional impact through tracks that stay a little too long and feel repetitive. But that’s not to detract from album that’s the most engaging and cohesive yet from an artist who continues to develop, grow and surprise.