Liam Finn: I'll Be Lightning

By: Dennis Cook

Forget that his dad is Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz) and just listen. This is the whole panoply of pop displayed with peacock flair. Liam Finn's debut, I'll Be Lightning (Yep Roc), has the mix of unbridled imagination and tasteful restraint one associates with debuts like Todd Rundgren's Runt and Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool. But unlike those artists, Finn doesn't have a Nazz or Brinsley Schwarz under his belt to help him with the fundamentals. Apparently, this youngster just gets hooks and heart-strong verses in the way most of us understand breathing or walking – a natural, largely unconscious rightness that keeps things moving along nicely.

Lead off tracks "Better To Be" and "Second Chance" bounce with playful energy but he hits you between the eyes with "Gather To The Chapel," a glorious, oddly uplifting seat at a funeral, and "Lead Balloon," which shakes with primal energy, the sound of a MUCH less twee Apples In Stereo that's descends into glorious feedback, screams and ultimately calm. From there on it's one fab track after another. Finn seems to have digested the whole of late 20th Century pop music. While the title cut echoes E.L.O., "This Place Is Killing Me" has the spirit of Kurt Cobain's toothiest compositions. There's an itchy imagination to the arrangements and pacing that's in keeping with what most folks call "indie rock," but he's more of a craftsman out of the gate than most MySpace acts will ever be.

Albums called "auspicious" are often a little cerebral but I'll Be Lightning is too bloody fun for that standard endorsement. This is a record destined to live in people's cars, join them in the shower, follow them through life changes and still offer some small, bright insight and pleasure with each return visit. In short, this is really really good, kids.

JamBase | New Zealand
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[Published on: 3/7/08]

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