New Zealand's Liam Finn crafts a sort of quirky orchestral pop that just doesn't seem right coming from a one-man band. It's a full, layered sound that nonetheless shifts instrumental focus song to song, showing an array of skills.
Finn, the son of Crowded House's Neil Finn, draws comparisons to Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy and Jens Lekman, and at times sounds like an indie-pop update of Harry Nilsson. Though he still plays all the instruments, Finn had help from co-producer Burke Reid on FOMO, his follow-up to 2008 debut I'll Be Lightning.
Opener "Neurotic World" draws out the theme that inspired the album's title, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out, his term for that near mental disorder of constant social networking, of trivial snippets about family and friends dominating your day.
"Read each other's minds, had to grow a thicker skin," Finn sings, amid a light psychedelic swirl of distorted guitar. "It's a sense of urgency in another neurotic world."
"Don't Even Know Your Name" pulses with the sort of dance-pop beat perfected by Canadian bands like Metric and Broken Social Scene.
"Cold Feet" is the centerpiece of the album, a midtempo, infectious could-be hit. It's a song about shyness in the face of romantic longing, perfectly sung, with coyness around the edges of Finn's sunny vocals.
Finn seems like the type of songwriter and performer who will steadily and purposefully build a long and strong catalog. Staying perhaps too close to his comfort zone, FOMO is a fine second album, but there's still much more to hope for from Finn.