Review: Blood Harmony – FINNEAS

I first learned about FINNEAS the same way I imagine most did, through his work as a producer for his sister Billie Eilish. But while her debut album When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go felt like a cohesive and bold statement of intent, Blood Harmony tends more towards derivative pop songwriting and acoustic instrumentation that doesn’t quite take advantage of FINNEAS’ obvious talents as a producer. There’s definitely some Ed Sheeran influence here, the combination of pop production with acoustic guitar and piano would feel right at home on ÷, but his voice is smoother and less interesting than Sheeran’s.

Over the course of the EP he moves between gentle acoustic ballads, to playful, low-key indie pop, to grand declarations of angst. He’s clearly got a broad range of sounds that he’s comfortable playing, but some of his choices are baffling in context. Let’s Fall In Love For The Night for example, is a funky mid-tempo song about a casual relationship that could become more, Finneas sings about bonding with this girl over their similar plans for the future, and his recognition that whatever they have isn’t exclusive or really all that concrete, over a steady Gorillaz-esque bassline, and some playfully percussive panting. But then in the third verse, he switches down a gear, slowing the tempo and stripping the percussion back to just his vocals, his guitar, and the ambient sound of frogs and crickets in a field somewhere. It takes the casual, chill vibe of the song that’s been leading up to that point and makes it painfully earnest. 

FINNEAS’ earnestness is a constant throughout the EP and it works both for and against him. The opening track, I Lost a Friend is a uniquely emotive song about male friendship, describing how FINNEAS’ new success drove a wedge between him and this other guy. One the one hand there’s a clear sense of self-awareness, “I know I’ll be alright, but I’m not tonight/ I’m on the mend, but I lost a friend” he sings, aware that in time he’ll get over it, or the line “he made a little too much money to be twenty and sad” where he acknowledges that his success makes him harder to relate to. But the rhyme scheme in the verses feels forced, the need to match other lines forcing trivial and mundane comparisons to what FINNEAS feels is clearly a major failing. They verses don’t match the level of energy in the chorus, as the sound builds over the course of the song, bringing in a killer flute patch that floats under the vocals, a low, humming synth, snarling rhythm guitar, and stomping percussion, the lyricism on the verses just seems small and uninspired by comparison.

It’s not all bad though, I Don’t Miss You At All is a fun, ironic tune about being completely over your ex and definitely not still missing the way they smell down to the specific flowers in their perfume. It’s hardly a new concept for a song, but the cartoonish synths and ticking drum machine give FINNEAS an interesting background over which to play the part of the ex in denial. There are some good lyrics on this one as well, the description of his ex’s eyes as “The shade of green that if he’d seen/ Would make F. Scott Fitzgerald cry” or the pained bragging that “I’m sleepin’ fine/ I don’t mean to boast/ But I only dream about you/ Once or twice a night at most.” 

Overall I’d give the album a 6/10, there are a lot of choices that I didn’t agree with, but there’s enough inspired and interesting production that you can be pleasantly surprised in places. He’s clearly aiming for a more generic pop tone than his sister, but FINNEAS still seems like he’s working out exactly what that means for him. I was a little underwhelmed by this EP, but with a little more polish and a little more time, I feel like he’ll be able to achieve the potential that’s on display here. 

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