Liam Finn was a welcome discovery recently when DiS watched him play the Tuborg tent at the sponsor-heavy love-in commonly known as the Wireless Festival, in London. With little known outside of the fact that he’s the eldest son of Crowded House’s Neil Finn, Liam successfully captivated a late afternoon audience with nothing more than his frenzied drumming, guitar loops and a bit of musical backup from a woman named Eliza-Jane Barnes.
Mashing together Beatles-esque indie pop with the atonal grunts favoured by more modern, leftfield rockers, Liam created a surprisingly satisfactory ruckus on a day filled with otherwise respectable artists whose movements offered little in the way of the unexpected.
So it’s with a raised eyebrow and a heightened level of curiosity that we come to Liam’s debut LP, I’ll Be Lightning. Already released stateside to favourable reviews, the album – a one-man show written and performed entirely by Finn – arrives on these shores with a well-thumbed passport that’s already filled with stamps of approval from overseas critics.
Much of the alluring chaos seen live is jettisoned in favour of a pop-friendly, Lennon and McCartney-loving template, as heard on ‘Wise Man’ _and ‘Shadow of Your Man’_, that’s often cited as the traditional stomping grounds for the Finn family (must be something in the water). It’s likely that Liam will never be entirely free of comparisons to his father, but there’s also enough fire and drive on display here to allow the young Finn the space needed to forge a distinct identity of his own.
It’s a space he wisely fills with a brand of occasionally gentle indie-pop that takes its cues from Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 and the psyche-pop fanfare of Beulah. ‘Second Chance’ _is all bare rhythms and lush harmonies as Liam sings “Remember me? Honestly I don’t remember who you are”. Though those looking for further proof of the man’s ability to stand on his own two feet need only listen to the screams of “…Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I know what I’m looking for”_ which punctuate the sun-soaked melodies of ‘Lead Belly’
Still, denying the debt Liam Finn owes to his father is impossible. The stamp of his genetic stock is there for all to see and the apple honestly hasn’t fallen that far from the tree. Yet even for all the familiarity to be found within its looping guitars and drums, I’ll Be Lightning also announces the arrival of a promising voice. Finn senior has every right to feel proud.
7Charles Ubaghs's Score