Liam Finn’s new album, “FOMO” reminds me of late nights at Camp Stone. Not the music, per se, but the title. We first learned the word FOMO from one of the Australians who came to work at camp. FOMO stood for, “Fear of missing out,” and it epitomized basically everything that happened at camp after the kids were put to bed. As staff members, we were constantly reprimanded for staying up way too late, well past 3AM on a regular night, due to a combination of no curfew for staff and a serious case of FOMO. How could we go to sleep if our friends were staying up? What if something incredible happened after 230AM when we went to sleep but a few others stayed up? Needless to say, there was a FOMO epidemic at camp that year, a serious disease that has transferred itself to my need to go to every Pearl Jam show that I possibly can. What if they play Bugs? What if this is the show where I finally get to see Immortality, Red Mosquito, and Rival?
I’ve since grown up (a little, at least) and have learned to control this serious condition. Which brings us to Mr. Finn. I first came upon this masterful musician when he was opening for Eddie Vedder in Baltimore, two years ago. Liam played the show as a one-man-band (though he had assistance from Eliza Barnes on more than a few songs), starting each track with a guitar and a looping pedal, performing each of the song’s parts, before jumping up and switching to the drums, only to smash the living daylights out of them, while singing his songs. His performance antics, to me, were the highlight of his set, so I never really put much thought into listening to his studio offerings. It seems however, that I’ve been missing out.
The album is a builder. It opens with Neurotic World which could fit well on any indie rock album. The layered vocals are hypnotic and peaceful, lulling you into a sense of overhwhelming calm, and the thought that this will be an ‘easy listening’ album. Which moves us into Don’t Even Know Your Name, a stocatto rocker that seems to be about falling in love with a girl from a distance. Can you get more indie rock? But the song is anything but standard, as sounds sweel seemingly from nowhere and the vocals build and sway as the track turns itself into a pretty beautiful love (from a distance) song. Roll Of The Eye comes next, channeling some Wayne Coyne followed by the bass driven senior prom slow-dance song Cold Feet which somehow avoids feeling cheesy. Real Late is where Finn starts channeling a bit of TV On The Radio in a very awesome way, followed by the noisy brash of The Struggle, which has delicious hints of Bruce, The Velvet Underground, and Tom Waits mixed in. (Bet you’ve never heard those three names in the same sentence.) And we segue back into the cute Little Words, which pulls us into a calm indie-rock haze before pulling out Reckless, which sounds like everything The Shins were going for but couldn’t achieve. The penultimate track, Chase The Seasons is a perfectly written song: interesting but gorgeous melody, swooning guitars, and the perfect background mood of sounds to accompany it. Which brings us to the finale, and quite possible the best track off the album Jump Your Bones. Here, Finn once again channels TVOTR in a fast rocker which makes you want to get off your seat and just dance. Not in a Gaga kind of way, but in a “I’m an awkward indie-music fan who doesn’t know how to dance, but I’m going to weirdly shake my shoulders and hips anyway because that’s what this song is telling me to do.” [Warning: Listening to this song at work can cause unexpected office dancing, leading to strange looks from co-workers.]
So what was Finn so scared of missing out on? Maybe he thought he missed out on every awesome musical style and band there ever was, so he decided to cover as many of them as he could in this album. That there’s no defining sound or theme in no way detracts from the beauty of this album. It grabs you and pulls you under the sheets, forcing you to listen over and over again. I myself have listened to this album 9 times today (yes, I danced a lot at work), and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
So buy the album (which comes out on June 21 in this lovely country). Go to a show (which may be slightly tougher if you live in this country). And enjoy the music. Because the only way you’ll really be missing out, is if you neglect this album and this fantastic musician.
Liam Finn – Jump Your Bones