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RAIN: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
Neil Finn is sometimes unfairly labelled as thoroughly Beatles-esque. Not such a bad label really, but the truth is that all traditionally-based songwriters are influenced by the Beatles, and while Finnís sound might be more that way then most, heís good enough to have forged his own identity. Innovative he isnít; masterful he is.

Most of the time you can scent a Neil Finn number from the opening chords, and the aroma is usually sweet. Or bittersweet. Yes, heís a master of the honeyed hook, but thereís usually a tang there as well: a moody riff or the poignant twist of a minor key.

So with Finn I never expect anything revolutionary, but I always expect something impressive and quietly distinctive. Here, however, he blows my theories out of the water by pandering to the popular perception. There are moments on this album which are VERY Beatles. And, alas, a pale imitation at that. In fact, the whole thing is a pretty pale imitation of Finn in his usual, exceptional form.†

Full of splashy guitar, lots of chorus-effect wash, and sixties-influenced vocals that lack the melodic brilliance weíve grown accustomed to. Itís all just a tad on the wrong side of banal. In fact, Finnís work is overshadowed by a couple of kooky-pretty tunes by Lisa Germano, and the vintage guitar-rock of Human Instinct. Even the intro to a duet with Edmund McWilliams (penned by McWilliams) is more interesting than the song itself.†

In the incidental cues, Finn demonstrates that he can noodle unremarkably on the keys with the best of them. Pleasant-enough piano platitudes arenít really good enough from a musician of Finnís calibre†

The albumís final cut, Lucid Dream, is written and performed by the new Finn on the block Ė Neilís son Liam (who appeared in a duet with dad on the I Am Sam soundtrack ). Unfortunately, the sins of the father have been visited on the son here. Lucid Dream has an unremarkable beat, some jangly strings that are straight out of the psychedelic era that shapes Neilís sound, and oodles of contemporary electronic psychedelia Ė presumable just to prove that Neil gets out to more hip nightclubs than his old man.†

Itís always painful to criticise someone youíre a fan of; and of course everything is relative. Neil Finn is one of the Antipodes best songwriters. Ever. I doubt he could produce a complete dud if he tried Ė and he does seem to be trying here. Well, perhaps not, but he IS coasting. This isnít a dire soundtrack, just very disappointing.†

Published October 3, 2002

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TITLE: Rain
ID: 24353 69642
EMI
ARTISTS: Neil Finn; Edmund McWilliams; Lisa Germano; Human Instinct; Liam Finn
TRACKS: 17







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