Not quite what you’d expect from Ninja, this – a guitar-based album of songwriting. But then the same could have been said of Peacefrog and their recent success with Jose Gonzalez – and there’s some value in drawing comparison between the two.
Like Gonzalez, Fink has a minimal approach to airing his songs, though his voice lends itself to a smoky, lightly bluesy take on life. The two share a totally unhurried style, with accompaniment relatively sparse, though subtle sound effects hover round the edge of Fink’s guitar, which has a light Southern twang to it.
Previous records from the Bristol-born producer have played heavily into the electronic camp, with the emphasis on post-rave music, dub and hip hop, but all the while off-mic he would return once again to his first love, the guitar.
Gradually his affair with electronic music began to dip his creativity, and so deceiving Ninja in a subtle way he informed them of this hot, unknown guest vocalist from the States he had found. The record company’s response was to commission an album’s worth of material, and Biscuits For Breakfast entirely vindicates their decision.
Such is Fink’s vocal delivery and easy-going way with a six-string that he draws the listener in, the autobiographical lyrics right down to the bone, laid bare. Only one song, Hush Now, introduces a second vocalist in the form of a husky-toned Tina Grace – the rest feature Fink’s confidential asides.
Of these, You Gotta Choose Now muses over a dusty, lazy beat. Biscuits meanders in harmonic circles, yet sounds a little restless in the resigned vocal “in my office on the fifth floor, I can see my world pan out before me”. It’s the most moving song on the album, so clearly a product of personal experience.
The studio dressing shows Fink hasn’t totally mislaid his electronic roots, but it’s clear this is something of a watershed for him, and he sounds totally at ease expressing himself in this medium. Emotions run throughout his singing, which has an appealing rough edge over the dreamy guitar lines he spins.
Nor does he outstay his welcome, just ten songs wrapped up in a perfectly structured forty minutes. And as the album draws towards a regretful close with the confessional Kamlyn (“I left myself behind”) Fink pulls himself back towards the surface with the hypnotic Sorry I’m Late. This song takes the daily troubles of 21st century life (a crowded inbox top of his hate list) and deals with it by saying “I need a smoke – who doesn’t these days”.
A small gem of a record then, beautifully realised by its creator, and a late night treat in the offing.