Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Liam Finn ‘Snug As Fuck’

Liam Finn

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.

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[Grade: 7.5]

Alex Angrignon: I saw Liam Finn play this at Camp A Low Hum backed by Lawrence Arabia on bass and recall it being the highlight of the set. There’s a tiny bit of a Connan Mockasin influence in there with that high rolling bass, which is the best part of the track. The unsettling minor chord changes at the end of each bar seems quite unlike Finn as well, which is why I appreciate this song. I’m not quite sure what ‘Snug As Fuck’ is about, I’m just glad I no longer consider him a poor man’s Elliott Smith. I had no idea Liam Finn was into prog? [8]

Stephen Clover: I’d never anticipated that my first proper encounter with Liam Finn’s music would be so satisfactory. I suspect that I’m probably being manipulated by a canny combination of modern musical tropes currently fashionable. That doesn’t necessarily explain the achingly-Dennis Wilson feel or those vocal inflections that are reminiscent of the Prince that I love or the pleasantly classic FM guitar guitar solo on the outro. Thunderclap Newman. That late sequence of string-synth key modulations is magnificent. The New Radicals would remind you that nostalgia rarely is done well but I’m a sucker; stick this on a 7″ with a good B-side, age it 30 years and I will probably listen to it forever. [7]

Gavin Coughlan: The first single off Liam’s third album is quite a grower. I was never fan of any of his Betchadupa output, but he has really come in to his own as a solo artist, and this track is another mini-triumph. Normally I am dubious when children of famous musicians follow in their parent’s footsteps, but Liam’s family connections didn’t pop in to my mind at all as I listened to this, which has got to be a good sign. To be honest, I’d rather listen to this than Crowded House.

The near-falsetto Liam sings with here takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do it’s a really enjoyable experience. It ambles along in a very pleasant way, with the muted electronics perfectly complimenting the prominent bass line, until it builds into a soaring guitar solo which all feels very seventies and sunshine-y. [7]

Luke Oram: I don’t know what Liam and his dad are smoking up there in the hallowed halls of Roundhead Studios but they should make a huge batch of it and pass it on to New Zealand music in general. Except the Phoenix Foundation, because that’s probably who they got it off in the first place.

What a great track. It actually feels snug in general. It’s Beatle-esque in its musical mischief. The bassline’s sexy and he’s borrowed that beautiful hushed falsetto from his dad.

When you have a listen to Neil Finn’s Dizzy Heights, which is right up there as one of his best solo records I reckon, you can tell father and son have been really playing the studio. The soundscapes are huge and damn near orchestral. This is gonna be a cracker album. [9]

Sean Quay: In an effort to recapture the timelessness of great 60s pop, Finn seems have to arrived at a peculiar place where he is inadvertently playing Dad Rock of the most staid form. Landing somewhere between the Reduction Agents and Connan Mockasin by way of the Beatles and Wilco, ‘Snug as Fuck’ is not, however, a terrible song as a result. The arrangement is interesting and produces a kind of brooding slow burn resplendent with kitchen sink et al. Finn’s earnest and plaintive singing would do Tweedy proud. The end result is far from unpleasant and is, in fact quite charming, albeit at the cost of any sense of danger or excitement. [5]

Nick Raven: This song by Liam Finn is brave and dares to be slightly different. The bass line in particular has a strange rhythmic structure and warbling sort of tone that I love. Lush chorus effects and psychedelic synths paint a hazy backdrop for Finn’s groovy vocal line. It’s a great song! I think the name is a bit unnecessary. I’ve never been a fan of songs that swear just for the sake of it. Its just trying to hard and just doesn’t come off well. That aside… [8]

Marc Swadel: Part Elliott Smith, part The The, part ELO but ALL Liam Finn, this song sits along with Connan Mockasin’s music in a wobbly febrile world that is a kind of soft pillow coming out of your speakers – or more likely headphones. Love the George Harrison-esque guitar solo.. great to hear EJ Barnes in harmony. I can tell Liam enjoyed making this track. He had nothing to prove on it – and it shows. It’s joyous. It is so untrendy, so a million miles away from X Factoresque crap, and faux folkie affectation, so un-calculatedly made that it SHINES. [8]

Oliver Carle: Whether he likes the comparison or not, Liam Finn’s new track sounds like it could have slotted *snugly* into the middle of John Lennon’s writing career. The sleepy rhythm section, grunty guitar and background synth is comfortably reminiscent of the Rubber Soul/Revolver era of the Beatles. His unique and endearing vocals, though, do a great job of differentiating it from any influences. I may be biased as a long term fan of the Finn family and everything they do but ‘Snug As Fuck’ is already finding it’s way into a few of my day-to-day playlists and I can’t wait to hear some more from the upcoming album. [8]

Luke Jacobs: Finn’s voice and style has matured well and this song shows sharp writing both in the vocal delivery and the hazy burning guitar. It’s a hard song to write about though because while it has many positive qualities it leaves a very little impression on me.

Normally I would give a track like this a six out of ten but I listened to it quite a few times and tried my best to really deconstruct it. And it’s warmth started to rub off on me. I guess it’s like a fine grain of sandpaper, it gets the job done eventually but it takes a bit of time. If you have the patience it does have something to offer. That is if you’re in the mood for it. [7]

Vincent Michaelsen: Ooh – cosy indeed. I really like this. It’s maybe a little familiar after Connan Mockasin’s latest stuff and quite a lot of other sexy releases lately, but that hardly matters. The instrumentation here is incredible – that baseline is beautiful and some of the psychedelic tweaks and background rhythms give it a nice Beatles feel. Teetering dangerously on the edge of comedy but not quite crossing over. [8]

Andrew B. White: Liam Finn and EJ Barnes sound effectively ‘high’ on this track, juxtaposing a laid-back psychedelic vibe with what might be wide grins you can effectively ‘hear’. Vocals are delivered in high falsetto style and it is sung in a slightly paranoid fashion. The song could work well in a film or TV show context as background music for a scene where the lead character is zoned-out, wandering in some kind of haze through the city. On repeated listens you’ll start to pick up the Finn trademarks of nice little flourishes and sounds that weave their way throughout the song, leading to a guitar solo reminiscent of something from an Aimee Mann number. As a first single for a new album ‘Snug As Fuck’ might not be the obvious choice (‘Burning Up The Road’ is a more uptempo number for example) but artists are free to release what they see fit these days rather than relying on a record company exec crying ‘we need a SINGLE!’. That said, the song does actually work as a single because it sticks in your head, does its thing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The new album should be a good one then. [8]

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