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Album Review
The Nihilist

The Nihilist
by Liam Finn


Review Date
8th April 2014
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

In a happy coincidence, The Nihilist marks the second time this year a member of New Zealand’s first family of music has released their third solo record. Hot on the heels of Papa Finn’s Dizzy Heights, the heir apparent has just unleashed his mind bending, genre defying opus. Recorded almost exclusively by night in a Manhattan apartment and teased to live audiences earlier in the year, The Nihilist represents a complex and at times indecipherable collection of the most compelling music Finn has produced.

Reputedly, no less than 67 different instruments were used in the creation of The Nihilist , a number which sounds feasible given the sheer amount of layering and almost frivolous use of sound and texture from start to finish. The result is far from fatiguing however. Like a 12 track degustation, each bite of each song offers up something different. The subtle grand piano of ‘Helena Bonham Carter’ for instance gives way to fuzzy guitar and chaotic cityscapes in the magnificent ‘Burn Up the Road’ without missing a beat and it’s these bursts of flavour that keep you from putting the record down as well: the synth bursts of ‘Miracle Glance’, the lo-fi drum machine-gun attack of ‘4 track Stomper’ and the dreamy open string sing-a-long of ‘Snug as Fuck’.

Thematically, Finn appears to have settled on being unsettled. While the insecurity and nervous jokiness of I’ll Be Lightning and FOMO remain, this sentiment is now somehow assured and even buoyant. The isolation of New York has seemingly offered the songwriter both inspiration and a justification for his particular brand of eccentricity. The Nihilist is Finn’s most disparate, least complete and his most ambitious record then. Luckily, it’s also his best.


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