More than a chip off the old block...
I'll Be Lightning
OK let's get this out of the way as quickly as possible: Liam Finn is the son of Crowded House's Neil Finn. Being referred to as the 'son of' must be a double-edged sword. For whatever advantages there may be in having a recognisable name, mention Dweezil Zappa, Jakob Dylan, Julian Lennon and Adam Cohen, and one can't help but do a quick mental comparison with their famous forebears.
The milestones of the father can quickly become the millstone for the son, almost guaranteed to be a burden at the outset of a budding career. If all of that wasn't bad enough, the accolade of being singled out in Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 'top ten artists to watch this year' must add to the gravity of expectation.
The good news is that Finn has emerged with a credible album that would have deserved attention regardless of his illustrious lineage. True there are several songs which would easily fit into the Crowded House set without too much bother; "Remember When" has that bittersweet lilt, and "Fire In Your Belly" glories in those sun-kissed harmonies which are such a part of his old man's outfit. Elsewhere though he goes deep into the shady undergrowth of obsession with the excellent paranoia-pop of "Second Chance" in which the soothing tones become accusatory howls complete with ferocious tub-thumping drums (played, as are most of the instruments, by Finn himself).
"Lead Balloon" bounces happily around in a britpoppy/Blur kind of way until a dramatic change in mood and pace – a trick Finn repeats on several other occasions. The frantic ''I know what I'm looking for'' chorus has him jabbering like a demented Graham Nash before lapsing into a pensive outro. Finn's often obtuse dynamics add a subversive aspect to the material and happily wrong-foot the listener. As the title track belligerently demonstrates this is no introspective mumbling affair but a strident, roughhouse punch of a record.
As a songwriter and performer, Finn's journey may have only just begun but I'll Be Lightning suggests it's going to be an eventful trip.