Neil & Liam Finn: Lightsleeper (Inertia/[PIAS]) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Neil & Liam Finn



Sep 06, 2018 Issue #64 -  Kamasi Washington Bookmark and Share

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To call Lightsleeper a "family affair" is a severe understatement. Sure, father-son team Neil and Liam Finn are credited as album artists, primary instrumentalists, and producersbut most of the Finn clan is featured on this album, not to mention several adjacent "family" members (the likes of Connan Mockasin and Mick Fleetwood, to name only a couple). According to legend, Lightsleeper came about after Liam Finn's 2015 wedding in Greece and the Finn party that ensued (with Liam dislocating his thumb amidst a red-wine stupor). A few years in the making, Lightsleeper sees New Zealand's musical royal family, the Finns, at the helm of one of the most ambitious collaborative projects in recent memory.

The project was at once risky, the elder Finn reflects in a press release. Both musicians have a certain musical flair, one that could be bogged down by stubborn creative decision-making. But the Finns are a notoriously collaborative bunch: Neil accompanied his brother, Tim, with the latter's New Wave band, Split Enz, before working together again in the group Crowded House. Soon enough, the natural collaboration began to take shape and soon enough the group had a collection of finely tailored tracks.

Lightsleeper is mostly equal parts Neil and Liam. The eleven tracks on this record capture the musical sensibilities of both Finns while a third product, a certain air of organic, home-grown craftsmanship, emanates throughout some of the album's more experimental numbers. On tracks like "Listen" and "Any Other Way," the straightforward content of the songs (courtesy of Neil) is contrasted with the sonic ambiguity of Liam's experimentalism.

The familial element of this record is flexed on songs like "Back to Life," which builds moving depictions of family relationships into a gospel chorale. All Finns aside, Lightsleeper is a remarkably diverse collaborative album from two family members. It does a stand-up job of capturing the different generations within a family, with a candid and almost cerebral penchant for the sweet memories we take everywhere we go. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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fireboy and watergirl
September 10th 2018

On tracks like “Listen” and “Any Other Way,” the straightforward content of the songs (courtesy of Neil) is contrasted with the sonic ambiguity of Liam’s experimentalism.