Liam Finn
Champagne in Seashells (with Eliza Jane)


4.0
excellent

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
October 14th, 2009 | 60 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Second-gen pop magic.

Young Liam Finn is a clever, clever man. His debut album under his own name, 2007’s I’ll Be Lightning, was almost entirely of his doing in terms of creation, production and instrumentation. However, when it came to taking the album’s vast, intricately layered sounds onto the road, Liam was always going to need a little help.

Enter Eliza-Jane Barnes. The two already had a link in terms of being second-generation musicians – Liam’s father is Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, whilst Eliza-Jane’s father is Cold Chisel singer Jimmy Barnes (“Barnesy” to your local pub-goer). But once the two began performing together, the links and the chemistry grew stronger with each and every performance. Liam took on vocals, guitars and drums (sometimes all at the same time thanks to the magic of loop pedals), whilst EJ supplied harmonies, backing vocals, percussion and even the occasional strum of an Autoharp. Indeed, the two have developed into a practically inseparable musical pair over the past eighteen or so months. No surprises, then, that their collaboration has spawned an EP in the form of Champagne in Seashells. Even fewer surprises, still, that it’s a wonderful (albeit brief) collection of imaginative and genuine tunes that’s from the heart and for the head.

Four words, whilst somewhat silly to think, are practically inescapable from initial reactions to Champagne: Like father, like son. Liam has obviously learned a lot from his dear old dad and his time in Split Enz and Crowded House. The track “Honest Face” takes the old Neil Finn route of making sadness sound unabashedly cheery and upbeat – almost as if it’s family tradition. The contrast takes place in the form of the uplifting harmonies (a strong trait of the Finn/Barnes collab) and sliding major chords with the lyrics of “You’re a cheat/And a liar/With an honest face”… before confirming their distrust with the catchy chorus of “I don’t say these things just to anybody”.

Of course, the two don’t live in parental shadows anymore – it’s hardly as if this is a record of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Khe Sanh”. Perhaps the most likable thing about the songs Finn and Barnes have on offer here is the fact that they are able to strike a balance that most left-field pop/rock fails to do between experimentation and accessibility. Not once over these five tracks is one sacrificed for the other. Lead single “Long Way to Go” is a vintage pop tune at its core, with swaggering electric guitar and some killer falsetto from Finn. Even still, the two are free to experiment with ominous choir-like harmonies, beeping synths, buzzing organ and hissing vocal percussion. Its successor, the summery “Won’t Change My Mind”, appears to be much more placid and airy for its first half, before transforming deceptively and unexpectedly into a bizarre calypso jam via a wave of electronic blurts, theremin and what appears to sound like seagulls. It’s an engaging string of songs, sonically welcoming in rather than polarising.

The two had a very clear idea of what they set out to achieve here – they not only played every instrument, but also produced the EP themselves. We’ve captured these prodigious twentysomethings at what could well be the final transitional stage between being introduced as “so-and-so’s kid” and being introduced as performers and musicians in their own right. The Finn and Barnes legacy continues on in more than capable hands.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jim
October 14th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is very intriguing

am i going to find this easily?

AtavanHalen
October 14th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yep; it's in all good record stores/online/etc. Also, they'll be opening for Pearl Jam in November if you're heading along to that.

Douglas
October 14th 2009


9104 Comments


I never really got into Liam Finn, may as well check this sometime.

Digging: The Preatures - Blue Planet Eyes

Spare
October 14th 2009


5308 Comments


shouldn't this be in a separate band page because it seems like it's not really a liam finn album with eliza jane it seems more like a liam finn & eliza jane album yaknow

also the single from this is cool i saw it on rage

Digging: Best Witches - Wishes

Gyromania
October 15th 2009


15716 Comments


Did you just change your rating?

Mordecai.
October 15th 2009


8279 Comments


Good review David, never like this guy though. I've only heard singles so maybe this will change my mind.

Jim
October 15th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bought this on the way home

will listen to it tomorrow hopefully

AtavanHalen
October 15th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Manny - Definitely get I'll Be Lightning; well worth a listen.

Spare - Lol, probably. Do check this out, though.

gyro - No?

Tom - Head to YouTube and look up his performance of Second Chance on Letterman; might change your mind.

James - Lemme know what you think of it!!

(deep breath)

Jim
October 15th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol you're turning into that friendly cad davey

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2009


20857 Comments


OY.

That's it, my next comments is going to be like 1,000 lines long.

Jim
October 15th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it was always going to be!

AtavanHalen
October 15th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe if you cunce didn't ask so many fukken questions n shit

Jim
October 15th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cunce

:O

AtavanHalen
October 15th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

filfy fukken cunce

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2009


20857 Comments


Nothing brings out DavID's alter-ego more than calling him friendly.

New tv show: 'The United States of DavID'

Jim
October 15th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

aww the real show ended last night =(

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2009


20857 Comments


... & it was the best show of the year imo.

Good review btw. Like some others who have commented here, Finn's debut put me to sleep... But the lead single off this is pretty darn good.

Calculate
October 15th 2009


1135 Comments


nz again. nice.

AtavanHalen
October 15th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finn's debut put me to sleep


You're fucked.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2009


20857 Comments


As in (a) you're coming to do nasty things to me, or (b) I'm screwed up in the head?



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