Editors' pick

Liam Finn

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Editorial Review

Album review: "FOMO"

The Paul McCartney gene is strong in New Zealand's Finn family. Tim Finn, his brother Neil and Neil's son Liam all have the McCartney knack for mesmerizing pop melodies and disposable lyrics.

Occasionally - as on the debut album by Neil's band Crowded House - the Finns approach the rare grace of McCartney's work with the Beatles. More often, though, they resemble Mc-Cartney's post-Wings solo work - too catchy to dismiss, too workmanlike to embrace.

"FOMO," Liam Finn's second release under his own name, is like those albums. All 10 tracks (plus the bonus track available digitally) boast ear-grabbing choruses - melodies whose jumps are both surprising and satisfying - reinforced by pop-psych guitar breaks and push-and-pull grooves. Liam painstakingly assembled almost all the tracks himself, but unfortunately the result sounds constructed by blueprint rather than played by instinct.

FOMO is an acronym for "fear of missing out," and many of the lyrics are about being on the outside looking in at relationships that have failed or never started. "My will is weak," Finn sings on the album's first single, "and I'm tired of cold feet." His confession of having "Cold Feet" in a "Neurotic World" seems more credible than his claim that he's "Reckless" or about to "Jump Your Bones." His tentativeness about relationships extends to his music, where you can often hear the moment of calculation before the phrase.

--Geoffrey Himes, Sept. 9, 2011