Say Hello to Sunshine

Finch - Say Hell to To Sunshine

It’s been three very long years for Finch fans across the world. After the immense success of the band’s debut full-length What it is to Burn, fans grew tired of watching Finch play tour after tour, performing the same songs that had since grown old. Although Finch had played a large part in triggering the so-called “screamo” explosion, their sound had been replicated by hundreds of other bands who tried to cash in on the screamo fad. Of course, Finch was one the first bands to become a commercial success while performing that style of music. That was three long years ago, and the Finch faithful have been anxiously awaiting another album with bated breath. New demos began to surface, and reactions were widely varied. The consensus seemed to be that everybody absolutely hated Finch’s new style, or loved it. One thing was for sure – Finch’s new material was not going to be What it is to Burn part 2. That brings us to today, just days before Finch’s long awaited follow-up album, Say Hello to Sunshine.

Finch has matured both lyrically and musically. Nate’s vocals reach highs and lows previously unheard on the band’s earlier works. Radio format songs are few and far between, as Finch’s songwriting has taken a turn towards more technical rock. Metal riffs and breakdowns appear more frequently, and the album as a whole is significantly heavier than their first release. Songs are initially less accessible, as the majority of the album is slower, less predictable, and harder to swallow than Finch’s oft-sugary past material. Thank God this is the case. If there ever was a band who needed to progress, it was Finch. While their previous work sold incredibly well, the current state of music is oversaturated with bands who sound exactly like Finch did circa 2002, and if Finch would have remained stagnant, only the most loyal of Finch fans would still be interested in what the band had to offer. While Finch has gone out on a bit of a limb for this record, they haven’t taken away their safety net, and old and new fans alike will still be able to find satisfaction in this album. Previous critics of the band should reconsider – this is not a screamo record.

“Insomniac Meat” kicks off the album with the dejected lyrics “Oh my God, I think I’m blind…” Metal licks run through verses while Nate demonstrates his improved vocal range, not only in singing, but in screaming. Screams turn from guttural growls into frantic, high pitched wails of energy. In the midst of the song, a strangely slow and quiet interlude is injected. While this didn’t make a lot of sense to me, I was ok with it, because it was unpredictable – something I’ve never expected from Finch. The song concludes with a dramatic ending with soft vocal harmonies complementing screams of “This is the worst thing that you have ever done” over and over again. “Revelation Song” is an incredibly technical song with frequent tempo and time changes. The vocals and guitars alike are far darker than what Finch fans are accustomed to hearing, but the chorus provides a nice burst of pop to appease the listener’s desire for pop. This is also the first song in which Nate’s new “style” of singing/talking appears. It’s a completely foreign vocal styling to the band, but it sounds distinctly familiar, as if out of a Static-X or Powerman 5000 song. While I initially hated this style of singing because I associated it with nu-metal, it actually works quite well in the context of the songs in which it’s delivered.

The first single is “Brother Bleed Brother,” an excellent choice for the band. A steady paced deliberate verse leads into a dark pre-chorus until a blast of energy gushes from the chorus, which ends with screams and a highly aggressive transition back into the verse. This song is almost completely driven by vocals, and the maturation of the band and Nate’s voice are most apparent in this song. The best part of this song, and possibly the entire album, comes in the bridge/breakdown. A heavy, math-rock breakdown with punctuated accents on the downbeats spews unbridled energy. Ingeniously, the band manages to insert tiny fragments of the song “Ink” in this breakdown, but at first listen, you probably won’t notice it, since “Ink” doesn’t appear until the 5th track. It’s an awesome song, a great choice for a single, and a refreshing break from the previous album’s first single, the more poppy “Letters to You.”

The less impressive and monotonous track “A Piece of Mind” is up next, and there’s not much to say about this song. While Finch has changed, the band needs to constantly push their sound or they end up becoming stale. This song has very little energy, poor hooks, and several attempts to push this song over the top completely fail. It’s a good thing Finch’s next track is quite technical. “Ink” is math-rock, straight up. In fact, the opening 15 seconds of the track sound like they’re straight from a Gatsby’s American Dream song. The similarities end there, as Nate’s eerie low and raspy vocals hover underneath the verse. The chorus repeats the initial math riff, and then the song because fairly predictable. Even though it’s math-rock, it still follows a straight verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge format. This becomes a problem on other tracks as well – the minute Finch starts to get really creative, they fall back onto their safety net. It’s as if Finch is trying to walk a tightrope, but with a net to catch them 5 feet below every time they begin to walk too fast and fall out of their comfort zone. This isn’t the case with every song by any means, but it does occur with relative frequency.

As is common with many albums, Say Hello to Sunshine loses all momentum during its middle tracks. “Reduced to Teeth” manages to snap the record out of it’s rut, but it still takes 3 minutes of the track to build into something even remotely interesting. “A Man Apart” is a completely new sound for Finch. Essentially a punk song with very straight drumming in the chorus, the verse is full of odd off-beats and an almost dub-type feel to it. While this song is vastly different from anything else on the record, it’s not a bad thing in the least. It’s a unique break in the pacing of the album, and is actually one of the strongest tracks. “Miro” is another totally unique song that sounds nothing like everything else…at least the verse does. In fact, it sounds like it belongs in a 311 song, with slow guitar riff/solos complementing a grooving beat. Sadly the chorus is pretty generic, and while it contains a good hook, it sounds an awful lot like the chorus from 2 or 3 other songs on this record. “Ravenous” is a solid up-tempo track, but nothing special. “Bitemarks and Bloodstains” doesn’t even sound like new Finch. It’s completely boring and predictable. The build-up, while intended to be dramatic, is murdered by the chorus being repeated over and over again.

The album could have just completely died out right then and there, but “The Casket of Roderic Usher” is this record’s “Project Mayhem.” The song is barely under 2 minutes, but manages to capture all of the spastic energy that was missing from the previous 4 or 5 tracks. When Finch goes spaz-core in this song, it sounds strikingly familiar to Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s not a bad thing, in fact I enjoyed it a lot, and I think Finch’s dabble into grind-core fits nicely on this record. “Dreams of Psilocybin” ends the album on a sour note, as bizarre heaving/screaming noises are isolated for 30 seconds before the song even begins, and the song itself is just plain weird. Nate’s new eerie vocal styling is matched with another higher pitched vocal line, as well as a chanting/screaming voice. This all leads into another formulaic chorus. For an album that thrives on being different, I suppose this is a fitting track, it’s just not a very good song.

There are huge expectations being placed on Finch and this past-overdue record, and the results are going to change some minds. I for one, expected this release to be awful, and I was flat out wrong. Finch has released a very solid, creative record that will silence a lot of critics, but also turn away some old fans. The vocals, instrumentation, and songwriting is leaps and bounds above their past. This record is far more technical and innovative than their earlier work, but it has a bad tendency to fall into old habits at times. Finch was so close to creating a phenomenal album, but they got in the way of themselves. Most people have said that you’ll either love or hate the new Finch record – I disagree. Say Hello to Sunshine is a decent album that deserves a listen. Despite everything I have said here, go and pick up this record for yourself, because it’s not what you’ve heard or expected. You have to respect Finch for maturing and once again releasing an album ahead of their time.

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