Fink - Hard Believer
Fink are one of the more unlikely successes to have appeared on the much celebrated Ninja Tune label in recent years. As a label responsible for much of today's greatest left-field electronica (Amon Tobin, Bonobo, Kid Koala), the fairly traditional work of the hugely talented singer-songwriter Fin Greenall once seemed a little out of place. Despite his blues infused radio ready vocals, Fink's music is built upon a charming blend of musical influences that disguise any tired preconceptions of what a 'bloke with an acoustic guitar' might sound like. His roots may lie in ambient techno and DJ culture but today's three piece Fink is a very different beast.
After packing up his decks, Greenall brought forth melancholic ingenuity and heady atmospherics to Ninja Tune in the form of 2006's Biscuits for Breakfast. On the band's sixth studio album Hard Believer, Fink have recorded not only their most traditional sounding album but also one of the most unrelentingly glum releases you'll hear this summer. This is an insular, paranoid sounding record deeply in tune with its own emotional baggage. Early cut 'White Flag' retains the notion of ambience, creating a deep hypnotism from simple vocal repetition under a cloud of carefully echoed drums and drawn out guitar effects. 'Truth Begins' again offers a slow build of catharsis by never cluttering the sound, allowing each instrument a moment in the foreground before the song motions towards its climatic ending.
Hard Believer hits hardest when Greenall keeps his lyricism simple and to the point. Mid album cut 'Shakespeare' opens with a lamented cry of “Oh why / Oh why did they teach us Shakespeare when we were only 16 and no idea what it all meant / Oh Romeo/ Oh Romeo / He thinks it's a love thing” before going on to deem the tale a “fucking tragedy”. The track touches Coldplay territory towards the end with a mighty crescendo which, while tasteful, is a little irksome given the phenomenal nature of the more subdued moments. Though unwieldy in places - and a little precious - Hard Believer remains an arresting, emotional listen that is no doubt the sound of an act comfortable with the world their music resides.