Review Summary: There’s a saying that basically says that you can’t be everything for everyone; someone needs to let these guys know.
When I first read that Finch had reunited I was very curious about what direction their new music would take. I wondered if it would be more like the mainstream pop-punk of their debut or if they would continue in the chaotic and experimental direction of their sophomore release. They could have gone either way, really. They could release What it is to Burn part 2
in an effort to make some money and apologize to the mass of fans alienated by Say Hello to the Sunshine
or they could have continued the direction of that second release in an apparent “Fuck You” to everyone who didn’t “get it” the first time around. As usual my assumptions were wrong and the band took the route that I never really considered; they chose to combine elements of both albums in an attempt to appease everyone.
Unfortunately their attempt to appease fans of both albums didn’t quite work out. What we have here is a watered down EP full of “almosts” and “not-quites”. While listening to the four songs presented here there are many times where they’re almost aggressive and chaotic, but not quite and other times where the song is fairly catchy but not quite catchy enough to truly stick in your head. What these near-misses achieve is a constant feeling of being let down as a song approaches something great, but then stops short in an apparent effort to not go too far in any direction. With such an emphasis put on remaining steadfastly between the musical elements of both releases the songs just feel safe and very familiar. There’s never a time where a chorus is going to grab your attention or a sudden jarring musical section is going to make you want to hit the “reverse” button and hear it again.
Any song from this EP could be used as an example of their effort to remain committed to the musical ideas of both albums, but I’ll use “Daylight” since it is available on their Myspace page. It starts with a jarring riff and scream that could have been on their second album without being out of place, but quickly moves into a section that is much easier on the ears with catchy vocals, and a chorus that could almost be memorable if they had just pushed the melody a little more, but they didn’t. Through out the next four minutes they tease with that chorus that almost reaches the catchiness of their debut, and they come close to the over-the-edge musical ideas of their second album including some decent drumming and nearly-harsh, atonal riffing, but as soon as it feels as if they’re going to push any one element they come back to center and leave the song hanging. It should be noted that even though that flaw extends to every other song as well, it’s still not enough to completely ruin any of them, it just makes them feel too generic and safe.
I wanted to listen to this and be blown away like I was on their second album or at least have the songs remain stuck in my head like the ones on their debut, but it didn’t happen. The songs on this EP just don’t do the band justice or live up to what their previous releases show they’re capable of. I’m a fan of both their albums and would have taken something similar (or evolved from) either of them, but this attempt to combine the safest elements of both albums doesn’t quite work out because it never allows the songs to get off the ground or create their own identity. The music is still good and the closing song reminds me through its use of mild electronics and big closing section that Finch are still capable of much more if only they allow it, and I only hope that with a full album they’ll be more willing to take chances and branch out.