Inoffensive + twee
Alex Rigotti
10:45 15th October 2021

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Nowadays, it's impossible to utter the name 'Billie Eilish' without mention of her brother, FINNEAS. The Los Angeles native already has an EP, Blood Harmony (2020) under his belt, but his debut record, Optimist (2021) is his most sustained effort in forging his own identity. FINNEAS proves himself to be a competent producer, but the gamut of inoffensive, twee tracks on this album shows he has a way to go as an artist. 

The brightest spots on this album are the moments where FINNEAS is willing to be more experimental. 'The 90s', the latest single from the record, wonders what it would be like in the '90s, before the internet or stalkers "looking up my mom's address". It's the instrumentation, however, that really alerts you to how brilliant the song is: the distorted, banshee screams are so in-your-face that their rhythm completely changes the whole feel of the song. Meanwhile 'The Kids Are All Dying' has a chorus so dramatic that it redeems the verses, which are borderline eye-roll attempts to mock overly-political Twitter users. 

FINNEAS also excels when he has a specific narrative or conceit that he can focus on detailing. 'A Concert 6 Months From Now' is a story laden with complicated, intense feelings about having feelings for an ex—and trying to solidify a future with a concert six months onwards. FINNEAS really captures the space between hopelessness and confidence with the line: "I've already purchased two seats for their show/I guess I'm an optimist".

Unfortunately, there are a lot of tracks on this album that lack the charisma to make any sort of impression. 'Happy Now' has some decent observations, including some humorous self-aware lyrics like "take a drive around town in my douchebag car", but the instrumentation and delivery lacks any sort of flavour or excitement. Similarly, 'Medieval' cleverly connects experiences of fame with literally being dethroned—it's a shame that the stomps, handclaps, and pizzicato strings don't do much to elevate the song. 

Optimist might not be the bold artistic statement that FINNEAS had hoped for, but the moments of excitement on the album shows there is potential in his career. It’s honest and sincere, qualities which other artists struggle with: now all FINNEAS needs to do is stray outside of his musical comfort zone to really make it pop. 

Optimist is out now.

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Photo: Press