Hard Believer is the 2014 studio album by FINK: Fin Greenall on vocals/guitar, alongside bandmates Tim Thornton on drums/guitar, and Guy Whittaker on bass. It is their first release on the R’COUP’D imprint, a label newly created by Greenall with the backing of the Ninja Tune team. Urban, bluesy, and alive, Hard Believer is inspired by life’s twists and turns, channelling hard-won triumphs and bittersweet experiences. It is a masterful collection of songs from an artist at the peak of his creative powers.
“We wanted to go deeper this time, and be more ambitious with the music,” Fin explains, “to move the sound forward without losing touch of where we’re from.” Recorded in seventeen days at Hollywood’s legendary Sound Factory studios, Hard Believer is shot through with rawness and controlled aggression; an album replete with calm beginnings segueing into powerfully hypnotic loops and climactic finales. “It’s performance-oriented rather than track-oriented,” Fin says. “We recorded a lot of the vocals at the same time as the acoustic guitars so they aren’t always perfectly synchronised. But we like that honesty in our recordings.”
With Thornton and Whittaker now as trusted co-writers, work on the new songs began after the Perfect Darkness/Wheels tour finished in India in late 2012, continuing on subsequent trips to LA (where Greenall also wrote tracks for the William H Macy movie Rudderless, and with John Legend for the 12 Years a Slave soundtrack album). After a year of intensive writing sessions in Amsterdam, Brighton and London, the band journeyed to California to reunite with producer Billy Bush (Garbage, Beck, Foster the People). Other contributors to the album include Dutch jazz pianist Ruben Hein, with strings courtesy of Matt Kelly and Andrew Phillips.
The new album presents ten brand new songs, including the mighty “Shakespeare”, a tale of young love gone tragically sour as the mood darkens from acoustic to guttural rock; the spiky yet delicate “Looking Too Closely”, riding an irresistible piano-and-guitar groove; “Green And The Blue”, on which a vulnerable Greenall meditates on the constants in life that see you through tough times; “Two Days Later”, a deeply personal lament and one of only two songs that start and remain down-tempo; and the breathtaking “Pilgrim”, the latest collaboration with songwriter Blair Mackichan, co-writer of “This Is The Thing” from Fink’s 2007 Distance and Time, and “Honesty” from 2011’s Perfect Darkness. Much like Fink albums of the past, Hard Believer covers wide ground. Musically it explores folk, electronica, blues, and rock. But it’s the songwriting that really propels Fink into a new space: a serious evolution that should see him regarded as one of the UK’s great modern-day songwriters.
If songwriting is Fink’s solid foundation, then live performance is what keeps the band’s hard edge alive and kicking. Never workshy when it comes to touring, the band’s concert schedule for Hard Believer has already dwarfed even that of its predecessor, with a tour that started in Greece in June 2014, stretched across the summer festival season, to the USA and Canada in the autumn, and then with a mammoth European leg straddling the whole winter and early spring: 99 dates in total, in 27 countries, including keys dates at New York’s Williamsburg Hall of Music, Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre, London’s Koko and a record three consecutive sell-out nights at Amsterdam’s Paradiso. The new album’s scale and ambition has required the trio to add electric guitarist Chris Nicholls to their live line-up, along with Ruben Hein on keys.
Following the success of Hard Believer, the band rang in 2015 with the release of Horizontalism. Presented as a collection of dubs from Hard Believer, the re-worked material takes on a decidedly more mysterious turn: vocals dangle and loop precariously over raw edges of murky sound, lasers oscillate and waves crash, percussion click-clacks somewhere far away, and the listener somehow draws nearer to the core from which Fink draws the sonic intimacy for which they’re so well-known. Inspired by Greenall’s new home in Berlin and his resurgent interest in electronic production, his series of mixes may stand in stark contrast to the band’s musical output of the past years, but the listener finds themselves at the same intersection of impassioned storytelling, manifest emotion and darkly beautiful ambience that Fink fans have come to expect.
"@MusicLapsley ahhh"Mon Nov 30 13:16:56 2015
"Out today - our new 12" with "Fall Into The Light" Margaret Dygas mix / "Pilgrim" @Paulatemple mix https://t.co/ZxYFsLPySp @ninjatune"Fri Nov 27 11:16:05 2015
"Check out the Dragon Keys EP from Prequel Tapes, and commentary... from our label R'COUP'D https://t.co/LTZhEx0Bye"Thu Nov 26 15:16:38 2015
"A new favorite: Prequel Tapes - Dragon Keys EP by Prequel Tapes https://t.co/TRozzFGbnA on #SoundCloud"Thu Nov 26 10:17:16 2015
"RT @njoymusic62: Superb ambient track 'Too Late' by @Finkmusic (Horizontalism remix). Enjoy! https://t.co/83gk3foUze"Wed Nov 25 21:28:20 2015