Album Reviews

Fink – Hard Believer

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 14 July 2014

Fink - Hard Believer Fink‘s sixth studio full-length, and their first original body of work since 2011’s Perfect Darkness, arrives with much anticipation. Much of their time away from the world of LP-dom has been spent working on film and TV music, such as co-writing the track Move for 12 Years A Slave, and collaborating on live records. These endeavours are all well and good, but the tantalising tidbits of new noise have teased us all into tousled messes, fraught with excitement and giddier than a ballerina pirouetting on a carousel.

Fortunately, Greenall, Whittaker and Thornton are back with Hard Believer, allowing us to unclench. The record is slathered in grandeur, proudly showcasing a poppier bent and soft post-rock twinges; Elbow-esque bouts of Herculean structure are frequent, as is Fink’s penchant for dynamic rivalry, á la Pixies. The form is twisted and warped far more than anything else on Hard Believer, with the heftiest chunk of intrigue coming from the camps concerned with volume, pace and evolution. Whereas in the early days Fink drew comparisons to Jack Johnson, perhaps Keaton Henson is a more applicable parallel in 2014.

Darkness reigns supreme, and the frequently utilised tactics of lugubriously plodding entwined guitar merging with the trudge of kick beats imply a sense of reluctance, or impetus via duty. Tracks like Too Late, Truth Begins, Looking Too Closely and the mournful Green And Blue are the best evidence of these timbres. There’s a tint of desperation, of hopelessness in Greenall’s once deliciously listless croon; it’s akin to the three-piece trembling along the Green Mile. There’s angst, a despairing obligation – not of creating the music, but rather conveyed by the music – which gives the impression that Fink have a terrifying task ahead of them that they might rather avoid.

It’s not all doom’n’gloom, however. The bluesy-speckled Shakespeare rattles off along the beaten path towards psych-country, dust strewn over the metallic twang of geetar and soulful gullet of Greenall. The contrasting positivity is wondrous, darkening the darks and lightening the lights of the whole record. If you look closely enough, Hard Believer is gorgeously experimental – just not necessarily in the obvious ways. The subtle blues-funk groove of the title track exists in the same capacity, shining a beacon in the jet-smog fog draped over a lot of the record. Pilgrim, humming and glistening with worldly intonations, is another cavernous epic, spread over continents and aeons, imbued with a strident sense of omnipresence.

It’s a gently ambitious record that Fink places at the sacrificial altar of the public eye. On the surface, there’s a muddiness that inspires nowt, but upon repeated listens, it opens up into a tarnished titan of folk-rock proportions, drenched in heart, passion, ambiguity, complex emotion, time, space, and culture. Deceptively expansive, Fink’s tricksy Hard Believer is essential listening.

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This Music Made Me: Fink
Fink – Hard Believer
Fink – Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet
Interview: Fink
Fink – Sort Of Revolution