Sometimes we ask a lot from our popular music – it’s gotta make us laugh, make us cry, make us work, get us dancin’ on a Friday night – give us the impetus to make love – and then stick it to the man on a Monday morning. It must do all this while simultaneously unmelting the polar ice caps, feeding the world, fighting poverty and freeing the innocent from captivity. And all this must be accomplished by good-looking people who try hard, who know how to perform in front of a live audience, and who can be instant role-models. And it is expected that they must possess a mysterious thing called the X-factor. These ingredients must be packed tightly into a product that is expected to be both instantly hummable, and yet will also stand many repeated listens. Damn! Who can possibly supply all this? Not many, that’s for sure. That’s why ultra-successful bands like our local boys Hard-Fi are so rare. And that is also why this band – fiN. is expected to take off . ‘Cos they’re giving it all up for us.
The Hob Staines was quite rightly packed – with squealing, excited punters – for the fiN. music event of Feb 14. Screaming pop-tarts swayed amiably with the ‘more serious music lovers’ as the band laid out their wares. fiN music is vividly imaginative, suspended halfway between pop craftsmanship and consistent indie rock epics. Agile harmonies between voice and guitar, and tumbling melodies dropping directly from the soul, are often harrowing poems of texture, colour and light.
But crucially there is always a family-sized variety bucket of harmony and rhythm to be found in the fiN. sound, synchronised with a style and sense of grandeur all of their own…. and this adds up to a powerfully inspired concert pop act.
Kicking off with “Everybody Dies Alone” with an intro consisting of lightly plucked almost harp-like guitars and cabaret-style singsong vocals from Luke, the bow-wave of rubber-band bass and heartbeat thumps from the drums soon kick in – like an adrenalin fix harpooned straight to the heart – as light spears of sound culminate gently into an easy to-live-with chorus - meandering softly towards a satisfyingly undulating lead guitar conclusion. fiN.’s work is casual and unhurried, sincere and honest. Eschewing flamboyant style or outrageous rock n roll excesses, the band members appear to be professional artisans carrying out their activities. Not to say that this is stuff is staid or boring. More often than not the fiN. sounds can be sharp and intense – even dramatic. But there is a feeling that fiN. never actually throw caution to the wind. You cannot imagine this band gobbing on the front row, grabbing their crotches lewdly during a breakdown or chucking televisions out of hotel windows whilst on tour.
Songs like the keening “Where Are You Now?” rely on sweet melodies and noble keyboards, carefully manipulated sounds
presented unhurriedly and unpretentiously. But the songs never feel overly gloomy or melancholy. In fact, as I looked around the audience, I saw faces that were alight with pleasure, glowing smiles of appreciation, nodding heads of approval and new understanding.
The set finished with “Life is Wasted [ on the living ]” with those guitars from Luke and Jonny delicately threaded through misty eyed vocals, but always kept in check by a regular rhythm of pounding drums and bass. This lot don’t play their music with hammers and swords – they play it with needles and thread. This band, fiN, are master craftsmen carefully preparing and almost ‘evoking’ every delicious moment of each perfectly pitched song. The tunes lift the hearts of crowd, who are soon gently moving in unison to the waves of sound – each song pushing that euphoria button a little harder. Guitars vie and vault with each other as crisp and colourful percussion and fleet fingered bass provide momentum and solid rock foundations. Tempos are sometimes deliberately energetic, but at other times have a dreamy translucent quality.
This is poignant, yearning and lustrous popular music for the Echo Booming generation.