Neil Finn: One Nil|
The marketing line before the release of this album was "Neil's going back
to pop". The unsaid final part of the sentence was "after the last weird
album, Try Whistling this". That says more about the worries of a record
company than the reality of Finn's developing solo career.
Yes, One Nil is more obviously an album with songs you could expect to hear
on the radio. Finn has used less of the scatter-gun approach to sounds and
structure this time around - not trying so hard to be different - but there
is still the desire to free the songs of their habitual crafter polish.
One Nil sees Finn trying to balance his old and new imperatives.
So, while there is the quintessential shuffling Finn ballad, and
effortlessly attractive duet with Sheryl Crow called Turn and Run, it is
followed by Elastic Heart, an edgy turn down a dark Berlin alley that
wouldn't have been out of place on Radiohead's recent Kid A.
Another ballad, Last to Know, begins with a dreamy wash on acoustic guitar
and brushed drums with a lovely liquid bassline from Finn's major
collaborator on this album, Wendy Melvoin. Balancing this is Hole in the
Ice, with choppy guitar and high tom/snare-heavy drums adding to a harsh
tone. This time the choruses layer rich backing vocals (from Finn and
eldest son Liam) and a softer lead voice.
It's one of the best examples of the deconstruction of Whistling being
incorporated into Finn's pop sensibilities.
There isn't a dud track here; there also isn't an out-and-out classic -
though Elastic Heart and Driving Me Mad come close. Despite the hype of
early reviews, One Nil suggests Finn is still in transition; the perfect
Neil Finn album is still out there.