'Perfect Darkness' is the fourth studio album from Fin Greenall’s band, Fink, providing the next logical step of their journey to date with their most plaintive and direct collection of songs so far. The conversion from acoustic artist to electronic experimenter is, much like the traffic across the Berlin wall was, pretty much one way. Just take a look at two of the biggest bands in the world today, Radiohead and Coldplay.
In both cases their latest singles, 'Supercollider' and 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall' respectively, take the ecstasy addled exo-skeleton of a nineties dance tune and pairs it with the falsetto crooning that won them their fans with early tracks like 'Fake Plastic Trees' and 'Trouble'.
Fink are a rare example of the opposite. Fin doesn’t rip off nineties dance tunes, he had enough of them at the time working as a renowned DJ with Ninja Tune to ever need to go back. Instead he’s moved away from electronic dance music and ambient techno and, since becoming the first singer/songwriter in the history of the Ninja Tune label with 2006’s 'Biscuits for Breakfast', has been focused on crafting bitter sweet acoustic songs.
This new record takes the progression even further with a very stripped back, natural sound. The fact it was recorded in just two weeks of studio time tells in the way the arrangements are uncluttered, retaining an evergreen freshness that comes from not over thinking things during the recording process.
That’s not to say the songs aren’t fully formed, far from it, it’s just that they’ve been lived with and figured out extensively during the writing process, meaning there’s less to figure out in the studio, a case of Immaculate Conception on the 50th date.
The album’s influences range across a spectrum of artists, but blues and folk structures underline many of the songs, especially the delightful improvised jam 'Wheels'.
The album’s title track kicks things off with a bold opening move, a near seven minutes of Bon Iveresque melancholy with vocals that soar without ever ceasing to be laid back, imagine, if you will, the Fonz with a jet pack or a seagull on Valium.
The album as whole, however does not live up to the darkness suggested by its name, which is a good thing. Songs like 'Fear is Like Fire', which touch base with the typical anxiety fuelled singer/songwriter play book, tend to drag a touch, lyrically and musically, and it is a relief to hear the beautiful down tuned brightness in Greenall’s guitar which offsets such smouldering tracks. Nowhere is this more evident than the gorgeous closing song, 'Berlin Sunrise'.
If you’re one of Fink’s existing legion of advocates this offering will undoubtedly please you, if you’ve never heard of this group before this album is the perfect way in.