Backlash alert. You can find substantial evidence claiming Temecula, California's Finch's debut album 'What It Is To Burn' to be one of the finest pieces of post-hardcore/emo ever relayed to disc. It's a tad early to claim they spawned a scene to the degree that ATD-I et co. did, but they were definitely front runners in this whole emo shabang. Finch, circa 2002, were respected for this. But now it's mid-2005 and emo is the new nu-metal it would seem. Many music fans want rid and many bands want to branch their musical 'expertise' as far away from the emo template as humanly possible. Poor Finch were always going to have trouble accomplishing this feat having produced such a flawless (via emo eyes) first record. The knives were out for 'Say Hello To Sunshine' then, as was the jury based on the tactically released demos but now the full CD is released - Finch have done just enough to pacify all stakeholders in this ludicrous debacle. The one group this benefits least however, is the fans. Firstly the alteration in styles has blurred the lyrics somewhat. The melodic hooks are more sparsely distributed and lead vocalist Nate Barcalow's lyrics appear to bypass the happy medium between embarrassingly overly emo 'I Miss You' blurb into incomprehensibly dark tales of 'being tied to chairs' and 'stealing her body and taking it home'. Unnerving.
On top of that the musical side is a mish mash of styles more akin to Blood Brothers-esque riffage than the Finch we used to know and love. It all equates to a confusing experience in which it appears the record itself has little clue as to which direction it is heading. Whether this is due to the bands urges to differentiate between old Finch and new Finch, label time restraints or perhaps (and hopefully) this is the first step on Finch's evolution to become an even greater entity than 'What It Is To Burn' promised. The signs of improvement are without a doubt there to usher towards theory numero 3. 'Revelation Song', 'Brother Bleed Brother', 'Ink', 'Reduced To Teeth' and others all opt for a less linear and more hardcore approach, while still remaining melodic and charismatic in a typical Finch way. Great adventurous songs in other words. The nods to the past are still there on 'Fireflies' and lead off dark chorus induced single 'Bitemarks & Bloodstains'. While on the other hand, those fans of 'Project Mayhem' (I'm not) will be more than happy with the heavy as funk sections on a number of tracks, including 'Hopeless Host', 'Ravenous' and 'The Casket of Roderick Usher'. Sometimes throughout the ambitious 15 songs on offer, it's not especially enjoyable to listen to due to Nate's urge to just scream relentlessly for no discernible reason however.
Unfortunately too, the band have opted to leave out any beautifully picturesque numbers of the 'Ender', 'What It Is To Burn' variety that they do so well. 'A Man Alone' is as close as they come to unleashing such heart wrenching majesty but soon that deteriorates into the usual flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs hardcore annoyance that is all too common. Let's make a quick nod to the artwork too, which is in fact my favourite aspect of the record. The irony of the 'Say Hello To Sunshine' moniker in comparison to the intense dark tones on offer. Nice one. It's a peculiar dilemma then. Finch have done enough to guarantee themselves a future but I fear this change in direction will have lost them more friends than it will gain them. In a perfect world - the band will either devolve into what they were before or expand and pursue this tangent to better success next time, for I fear Finch's days are numbered if they hang around with this creation for too long.