Finch released one of the most memorable albums of the pop-punk/emo movement back in 2002 with their debut ‘What It It to Burn’, by taking the Drive-Thru records pop-punk template (set by the likes of The Starting Line, New Found Glory, The Movielife, etc.) and revitalising it with shades of post-hardcore. It was so popular that when ‘Say Hello to Sunshine’ was released three years later, it was shunned – not only by the majority of fans, but by the record label as well. If you were one of those people who never gave this album a fair chance, I implore you to try again, because this is the best thing Finch have ever done. I promise.
Admittedly, going from the saccharine sweetness of Finch’s better know pop-punk anthem ‘Letters to You’, to the hardcore chaos of ‘The Casket of Roderick Usher’ can be jarring (as it proved to be for Drive Thru Records), but consider your first roller-coaster experience. No doubt it was disorientating and made you feel a little queasy, but once you found your bearings again, you couldn’t wait to get back on it. If the thought of diving back into this record still fills you with dread, I recommend forgetting it’s a Finch album at all – consider it a different band entirely and give it a spin with a fresh perspective.
At the heart of what makes ‘Say Hello to Sunshine’ so special is the huge step-up in musicianship from the debut album. The band changed drummers for this record and it seemed to be a catalyst for a host of other changes. As the album progresses, you’re taken though a variety of tempo changes, time signatures, quirky rhythm patters and creative vocal melodies that are far removed from what the band did before, but are unquestionably executed to a superb level.
Mike chose to cover ‘Ink’ because of its quirky intro riff and it’s a perfect song to choose, because it represents all of the changes mentioned above. Yes I know, this isn’t the kind of pop-punk anthem people wanted from, but as a post-hardcore record there aren’t many out there as good as this. Finch don’t tick the boxes of a genre formula with this record and they don’t playing along to anyone else’s expectations, they’re playing what comes naturally to them and the result is fresh and exciting. Taking this level of artistic freedom ended up backfiring on them and that’s perhaps the saddest part of this album’s history – how many other bands resist playing what they feel because they’re afraid of the potential backlash?
This is one of my favourite records of all time, and I sincerely believe that more people would have it one their list, if it didn’t have the word Finch written on the cover. If this was a new band that didn’t carry the weight of expectation built from previous successes, I think the reception would’ve been much warmer. Do yourself a favour and give this another go, because the quality of songwriting and musicianship contained with it deserves to be heard and respected!