Neil Finn - One NilThe latest from ex-Crowded House frontman Neil Finn is as much a departure from his signature sound with the Crowdies as it is from his previous album, Try Whistling This. With such past collaborators as Jim Moginie of Midnight Oil, former Crowded House producer Mitchell Froom, and Betchadupa guitarist (and Neil’s son) Liam Finn aboard, you’d expect something of the same sound, but there was a lot of experimenting going on with One Nil, possibly due to the influence of new collaborators – and multi-instrumentalists – Wendy and Lisa (yes, as in of early Prince and the Revolution fame). Fuzz guitar, unusual percussion, violin and distorted vocals are front and center on this album. (But, with Froom playing support, so are such cozy familiar elements as Hammond organ.)

One relatively new element which is welcome is Finn’s discovery of ELO-esque wordless background vocals, where a thick tapestry of voices sings a vowel sound in the background. That’s a sound I love in pop music, whether it’s ELO, Queen, Jason Falkner or the Beach Boys, and it works wonders on this album is such songs as “Hole In The Ice” and “Last To Know”.

I’m not sure what wisdom there was in kicking the album off with the slightly nondescript guitar piece “The Climber”, whose lyrics make up somewhat for the shortcomings of the music itself, but it’s not terribly representative of the rest of the disc. Nor, indeed, is any other single song.

My early favorites here are “Hole In The Ice”, the almost Smash Mouth-esque “Don’t Ask”, “Secret God” (which takes a little while to pick up its real pace), “Turn And Run”, “Anytime”, “Driving Me Mad” (an autobiographical number about a songwriter whose evasive muse is disrupting all else in his life) and “Into The Sunset”. In the meantime, this album’s Weird Song Award goes to “Elastic Heart”, which – even though I like it in places – is easily one of the most experimental of One Nil‘s dozen tunes.

4 out of 4If I have but one disappointment, it is that “Secrets” – a lovely tune demoed on Finn’s web site (with great vocal harmonies by Wendy and Lisa) – did not appear in any form on the finished album. Perhaps it will turn up on a future CD single, but I was a little saddened to see such a great song omitted.

Other than that, however, One Nil is a nice follow-up to Try Whistling This, and will certainly intrigue more than a few Finn fans with its surprising sonic turns.

Order this CD

  1. The Climber (4:11)
  2. Rest Of The Day Off (3:48)
  3. Hole In The Ice (4:10)
  4. Wherever You Are (4:45)
  5. Last To Know (3:02)
  6. Don’t Ask (3:54)
  7. Secret God (5:27)
  8. Turn And Run (3:46)
  9. Elastic Heart (4:00)
  10. Anytime (3:24)
  11. Driving Me Mad (3:58)
  12. Into The Sunset (4:12)

Released by: EMI Australia
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 48:39