August 23, 2018 Neil & Liam Finn – Lightsleeper (Album Review)
In the annals of Art Rock, New Wave, Sophistipop, and Pop music in general, the name Neil Finn has become a household name. For one, he and his brother Tim Finn were members of the New Zealand-based band Split Enz (“Six Months in a Leaky Boat”), which operated from 1972 to 1984; after which Neil relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he formed Crowded House (“Don’t Dream It’s Over”). When Crowded House broke up in 1996, Neil embarked on a solo career that rendered four solo releases. And then, in 2018, Neil and his eldest son, Liam Finn—who himself has three albums under his belt—joined forces to come up with their debut album.
Titled Lightsleeper, Neil & Liam Finn’s first offering is scheduled to come out on Friday, August 24, 2018, on Pias America. It still bears the breezy, Folk Pop predilection of the two’s respective works, but it is also marked by a more ambient and contemplative direction, reminiscent of some of Crowded House’s acoustic-oriented ballads.
Lightsleeper opens with the chirpy, ’60s-inspired piano-drenched Pop of “Prelude – Island of Peace,” which sounds relaxingly like a The 5th Dimension throwback (“One Less Bell to Answer”). The same slow tempo, introspective sentiment ensues in the form of “Meet Me in the Air,” thriving on the father-and-son’s dreamy melodies and spirit-lifting falsettos. Pulsing next in a loungy Electro-Folk implosion is “Where’s My Room?,” enough to send the listener to a subtle, slow-motion, head-bobbing terpsichorean experience.
The subtly orchestrated “Anger Plays a Part” is yet another trek down memory lane; but this time, to the pensive moments of Crowded House—think of a wetter version of “Four Seasons in One Day.” Neil and Liam then turn sonically seductive with the Ambient/Lounge Pop of “Listen,” “Any Other Way,” and Back to Life.” The mood turns even much deeper, reflective, and more rustic with the soulful, starry-eyed, light Jazz–sprinkled “Hiding Place.”
Father and son then go more experimental with “Ghosts” – bluesy, folksy, psychedelic, and dancey. Nearing the end of the light sleep, Neil and Liam summon their inner Beatles sensibilities or even their McCartney tendencies, as “We Know What It Means” sways so smoothly back to the late ’60s somber temperaments of the Fabulous Four (“Black Bird”) and the more adventurous excursion of McCartney and his Wings into Baroque Pop (“Little Lamb Dragonfly”).
Finally, Neil and Liam—with a little help from the rest of their family: wife Sharon on bass, occasionally; and younger son Elroy on drums on several tracks—finish off Lightsleeper with the slow, strummy, plucky, shimmering ballad “Hold Her Close”—nostalgic, heartrending, meditative—a perfect endnote to a shared expedition to vast musical landscapes.
With his prolific body of works, Neil has long proven his flair for expansive songwriting. His son Liam, on the other hand, despite his relatively young career, has already shown great promise. This first collaborative venture of the loving tandem simply adds feathers to their respective, impressive musical caps. CrypticRock gives Lightsleeper 4 out of 5 stars.