Review Summary: A good send-off slightly marred by questionable sound quality.
Sadly Finch are no longer with us after only two albums, a few EPs and a reformation, but before they threw in the proverbial towel they recorded a two song EP and ‘A Far Cry From Home’- their first and last live album. There was always going to be a problem with recording a live album for Finch; they were very much a band to see live rather than hear. Nate often chose to run around the stage and hope to excite the crowds with his movements rather than with his voice, and listening to the album his vocals do occasionally falter, but not enough to ruin the album.
An issue that may mar this album for some is the recording quality; it’s extremely raw and sounds like it’s not been subject to much editing prior to initial recording. That said, static is never uncomfortably high, the crowd doesn’t get in the way of the band at all and you can hear all of the individual instruments- with the possible exception of bass which is rather buried and only comes to the fore on certain songs ('Miro' being the best example of this). The Guitar playing is extremely solid though there are a few slight slip ups and on 'Stay With Me', I think it sounds a bit ‘flat’, but overall nothing to complain about too much. Drumming is particularly tight and rightly holds all of the chaos together and this is probably the best aspect of many of the 'Say Hello To Sunshine' songs included in the line-up; 'Dreams of Psilocybin' and 'Insomniatic Meat' being prime examples of this.
On this album the vocals vary quite extensively; some songs are performed near flawlessly such as 'Daylight', 'From Hell', and 'Piece of Mind', but some of the older and more well played songs such as 'Letters to You' and 'What It Is To Burn', sound rather nasal and almost bored. There is almost a feeling of contempt for the songs that propelled them into the spotlight in 2002 (which is extremely prominent in the introduction of 'Letters To You' where Nate almost sighs with displeasure). I would say that the singing sounds far more confident than the screaming which sounds quite pitchy at certain points during the album; particularly near the end such as in 'Chinese Organ Thieves'.
Although the quality of recording may be slightly ragged the songs included are exceptionally chosen giving a good selection from the various stages in their career as a band. One could argue that there is far more weight given to the 'Say Hello To Sunshine' era, but the impression given to the band is that they are far more comfortable with the material from that time so I don’t think that this is a bad thing at all. With this in mind there are favourites from their debut such as 'Letters To You' and the inclusion of 'Daylight' and 'From Hell' add a bitter sweet tinge to the album- hinting at what they might have done with their, now scrapped, third album. Although it may not be to some people’s taste, I was impressed with the decision to include 'Dreams of Psilocybin' in the setlist due to the complex nature of the song, and considering this, I think that they pulled it off rather well.
In summary, there are many things to dislike about the album, such as the mediocre sound quality, the occasional slip from the musicians and the unpredictable vocals, but a strong setlist and brief sparks of greatness save the album from being a flop at the end of their career. Even better, 19 songs for £8 on iTunes is good value, so for a die-hard fan, there's little stopping you.
Piece Of Mind