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Finch - What It Is To Burn X (Album Review)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 Written by Huw Baines

We’re all growing older, and we’re all changing. Accordingly, the various loves and obsessions that characterised our youths are becoming more difficult to relate to by the day. That’s certainly been the case for many who took ‘What It Is To Burn’, Finch’s debut album, to heart 12 years ago.

Finch were a difficult proposition for some at a time when alternative music was splintered into a hundred different sub-genres. They appeared not to fit in, whether you were a punk kid, metaller or follower of the Glassjaw school of post-hardcore, even if Daryl Palumbo did pop up on a couple of songs on 'What It Is To Burn'. What they had, though, was crossover appeal. Amid the heavy guitars and backing screams were pristine pop melodies and Nate Barcalow’s clean-cut vocals.

‘What It Is To Burn’ distilled those elements. In Letters To You they had an arena-ready smash, while Project Mayhem was all angular thrashing. The title track, meanwhile, was the perfect power ballad for the MySpace crowd.

The band’s decision to tour the record to commemorate its 10th birthday, then, was one fraught with possible dangers given its status as an album of time and place for a lot of music fans - love it or hate it.

‘What It Is To Burn X’ is a live document of the celebrations, and, you know what? It holds up pretty well.

The original line up - bar bassist Derek Doherty, replaced here by Daniel Wonacott - are in decent touch from the opening drop of New Beginnings, with Barcalow standing up to closer examination aside from a couple of reedy yelps.

It’s pretty clear that he could have held the mic out to the crowd for the duration given the lusty screams that open the record and continue throughout, giving proceedings a euphoric air that helps paper over some of the cracks that remain from the original album.

If ‘What It Is To Burn’ turned your stomach first time around, this will do absolutely nothing to change that. If it was something you tolerated, then maybe you’ll get a nostalgic kick or two here. If you loved it, then fuck it, dig in before the new material arrives later this year.


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