Review Summary: When a band truly evolves.
I don't know what inspired Finch to go in Say Hello to Sunshine
's direction. What It Is To Burn
did just fine for a debut and it fit a niche in the pop punk, rock-esque genre just fine. But just fine isn't what this is. This is a massive progression and genre shift for the better, Finch releasing a dark, emotionally penetrating album laced with chaotic post-hardcore that stands amongst the greats they've been influenced by. Less of a sophomore release, more of a reinvention.
Nate Barcalow, as vocalist, embodies this change more then any other. “Project Mayhem” was a taster for what Nate projects all album, transitioning from rhythm to medium with reckless abandon, showing an explosive ability to distort voice that harks memory of Glassjaw's Palumbo. When Brother Bleed Brother
's clean vocals erupt during “I'll hold my breath
” or when “Reduced to Teeth
's quiet, calmed refrain flashes to “Caged rats, experiments
”, it's breathtaking. Nate conveys this change equally with his words, the album pervaded with dank imagery of a hopeless individual spiralling deeper into despair, perpetuated throughout with cruel, twisted melancholy, sometimes verging on psychopathic:
“Buried with your face down,
you sleep without sound,
broken bones won't heal you,
sympathy turns to laughter”
He's the necessary driving force in songs, ever changing in dynamic, stopping them from staling and excelling in forcing Finch into unprecedented territory.
Stromyhares and Linares on guitar prove they've thoroughly broken away from their simple, formulaic past. You only need look as far the distorted layering in “Fireflies”
or the frankly beautiful breaks in “Miro”
to know these are matured musicians. Bass is also pushed more so to the forefront, taking a definable and distinguishing role in songs, particularly “Revelation: Song”
and “A Man Alone”
, Wonacott providing an overall more complex and, in some cases, genuinely technical performance. Allen's drumming remains an understated solid, but with such powerful roles at the helm, it seems laying the ground work was all that was necessary.
The fact of the matter remains however, this album doesn't have a bad song. Sure, “Bloodmarks and Bloodstains”
and “Hopeless Host”
will slip into the miscellaneous, but that's simply due to their relative mere decency in comparison to the wealth of brilliant post-hardcore surrounding them. “A Piece of Mind”
, probably the closest to their debut, still stands out as a distantly harrowing, more intensely climactic piece then the vast majority of “What It Is To Burn”
offered. Everything else is a musical high, passionate and blisteringly paced, with clean vocals and instruments in as equal a measure as grimy hardcore. Hell, Finch find themselves verging on mathcore in “The Casket of Roderick Usher”
and seamlessly pull it off as if that's how they started.
Honestly, the only thing that holds this back from a classic rating is the aforementioned passable tracks and perhaps a subtle lack of diversity. Most likely sacrilegious, I could relate it to Thrice's “The Illusion of Safety”
, excelling so well in a genre with the only thing holding it back from perfection being a slight unwillingness to further expand. Regardless, this is how a band should develop, leaving a more radio friendly and accessible Finch behind in favour of a new, better musical direction, where they're so close here that I don't doubt they could make the next "Worship and Tribute"