Music

Liam Finn: FOMO

After one solo album, one EP, and one supergroup collaboration, Liam Finn just doesn't sound as surefooted as he once was.


Liam Finn

FOMO

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2011-06-21
UK Release Date: 2011-06-20
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

I'd love to tell you that Liam Finn is a songwriter of rare intuition and that his craft completely wipes away any small, nagging doubts about nepotism. I'd also love to recommend his album FOMO to a crowd of young listeners who suddenly find themselves giving a damn about the music scene in New Zealand thanks to Flight of the Conchords and the recent Crowded House reunion. And I'd certainly love to see Liam Finn continue to be taken seriously as an artist, even though his father is quite possibly one of the great songwriters of the southern hemisphere, and that FOMO will hold up against future scrutiny when people stop and reminisce about junior’s climb to the top. But then I listened to the album. The golden moments are few and the bronze ones are many on FOMO, an album that offers much in the way of adequate, serviceable pop that stands just on the edge of "good enough" without going much further. It's almost earnest in the way it doesn't deliver, as if the whole sophomore slump thing were obligatory.

FOMO is an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. There are tiny clues leading to this eagerness, if not an overall sense of it. In the course of ten songs over 36-plus minutes, Liam Finn feels a "sense of urgency" and confesses that he's "tired of cold feet" and has "not got the patience", but looks back to observe that "time tipped over". It's all the making of coming-of-age stuff without any crux, any moment of realization. There are a few times where Finn can be pretty straightforward, but they nonetheless feel vicarious. He even says so in "Reckless" when he sings "I adore your reckless attitude", one of the more succinct melodies to be found on FOMO. The closet thing that he has to an angry side can be in a vocal-shredding performance on "The Struggle": "To bed without your supper, you suffer all your own." "Little Words" takes a sad and cynical view on the ease of modern communication, or voyeurism, or both as the song's narrator regrets losing a picture of a girl in her underwear from his computer. No big loss, because he then shakes it off by saying "you're pretty much dead to me". Oof.

What FOMO lacks in lyrical direction and/or poetic license it surprisingly struggles with to make up for in pop melodies. It's not that Finn's songwriting is bad or instantly forgettable, it's that nagging feeling that these songs did not come about through a natural songwriting process but through something more obtuse and methodical. Finn sings the title of "Don't Even Known Your Name" with much timidity, something that he's beyond considering how, if you're not paying close attention, you may mistake him for his dad. Nonetheless, it's the kind of song that aims for breezy pop but lands in somewhere more disposable. So does "Cold Feet", though Finn's singing is far more confident this time. Still, the chorus, with its four-count snare and far-reaching melody, comes across as a buildup leading to just more of the same.

Liam Finn is capable of better. We know because he has achieved better. Some days I can't get the song "Honest Face", from his Champagne in Seashells EP with Eliza-Jane Barnes, out of my mind. Yet even though Finn has earned his place in contemporary Beatlesque pop, FOMO feels regressive, almost like the work of a rookie. And it's not as if this rookie has struck out, it just sounds like he ticked off ten foul balls in a row.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.