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Some good tracks and some ok ones, but missing that sparkle
on 6 September 2006
Neil Finn's first solo album since Crowded House split has plenty of good qualities, but there are elements to suggest he's still finding his feet as a solo artist. Here are my thoughts on each of the tracks.
1. Last One Standing - A catchy melody, great guitars, sounds very warm. The contrast between the verse and chorus provides a good climax, and I like how the chorus starts out short, but gets longer as the song progresses. The bridge is unexpectedly bland, though, and the track ends before it builds into anything new. Otherwise, this is a sold song.
2. Souvenir - Very dull verse, slightly better chorus, and a reasonably interesting middle bit with nice vocals and average strings. I usually skip this one. It's pretty boring.
3. King Tide - Nice intro, very chilled. Love the panning between the speakers. Finn's vocals complement the meandering melody beautifully. When the track kicks in after the first minute or so, it becomes a fairly typical Finn track, not dissimilar to Neil's efforts with Crowded House. A slower version of Locked Out, perhaps? The melody doesn't hold up so well after the second verse, though, and the end is pretty underwhelming. Not bad, but clearly shows Neil was still finding his feet as a solo artist at this stage.
4. Try Whistling This - Great acoustic guitar and piano, excellently accompanied by Finn's gentle voice. And just when it starts to get a bit samey, the drums come in and the track builds up. Top tune.
5. She Will Have Her Way - One of Neil Finn's greatest tracks and by far the best on this album. It all fits together so well, and it's such a feelgood track. Great chord progression, and plenty of variation. Excellent!
6. Sinner - A very cool track - quite an unusual sound for Neil when it comes to the verse. While the chorus is pretty predictable, it's definitely one of his stronger melodies. Guitar work is particularly memorable throughout. The end is a bit drawn out though.
7. Twisty Bass - Eerie sound, with echoey voices and spooky chords. Very moody chorus, which contrasts well with the verses. Finn's voice works very well, and there's plenty of depth. Great track.
8. Loose Tongue - A very strong lead guitar melody right from the beginning, but a fairly repetitive verse. Still, the melody in the middle is much more interesting than the verse, and the guitars sound great from start to finish. The various sections fit together really well up until a minute from the end, when it scales back to an average track that feels out of place somehow.
9. Truth - Very strong vocals at the start, although the rather high-pitched "Truth" sounds a little out of reach for Neil's voice. Not so sure about the next part though - the extra instruments feel a little crowded, and the elec piano / organ doesn't work. A bit of a mess.
10. Astro - The first verse is absolutely brilliant: great vocals, great guitars, very catchy indeed. And unlike on "Truth", the elec piano / organ works well in the verse. However, that same instrument spoils the chorus as it's so overdone. Shame really. After the chorus, the subsequent verses and extra instruments don't achieve the right effect for me - much like the previous track. Which is a shame, because this started so well! The whole thing gets a bit silly at the end, with over the top vocals and everything drowning out everything else. NOT the way to do a song climax. Oh well, at least he didn't fade it out.
11. Dream Date - Far too high-pitched, boring guitar melodies, and a dull and totally cheesey chorus. Very poor indeed.
12. Faster Than Light - The background beat sounds like it was lifted from an old organ. Not good, especially as it is played alone at the start. Verse is average, chorus is quite nice with some good harmonies. Overall though, this is pretty bland.
13. Addicted - Nice closing track with some great piano and beautiful vocals. Bittersweet in sound, with some very nice chords that appear briefly before going back to the main melody. But one and a half minutes before the end, it all descends into the finale... which is, frankly, pretty dull.
In summary, Try Whistling This has a few great track and some average ones, but there is plenty missing that you'd normally expect from Neil Finn. Give it a listen and see what you think.