Album Review: Finom Finds Another Version of Themselves with Not God

If there is any constant in this world, it's Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham's ability to evolve. It's something I've noted in every review of their experimental band Finom's albums. Each one offers something complexly new, but inimitably theirs. From their early beginnings with their self-titled EP to their full length releases Parts and Fantasize Your Ghost, Stewart and Cunningham have changed their sound even within their releases themselves, never truly letting their creation become stagnate, which in turn has resulted in songs that sound fresh with every re-listen. Even their name, which I have purposefully neglected to mention, has changed. They have gone from HOMME to OHMME to Finom, not necessarily under their own accord, but Stewart and Cunningham have rolled with the changes.

FINOM by Anna Claire Barlow

Their latest release and first under their new Finom name, Not God, is a worthy addition to their catalog. Featuring production from Jeff Tweedy, who they have frequently collaborated with in the past, Not God really embodies the band's gentler side. That's not to say there aren't the expected moments of brilliant sonic dissonance, guitars crashing into each other, and the pairs' sharp lyrics. It's all there, but with a rounder and more polished sense of self.

That album kicks off with "Haircut", the strongest connection the louder aspects of Finom's sound and their strongest singles. Odd and catchy as all hell, it really captures your attention as it's near nonsensical lyrics ("written following the stream of suggested words" from Stewart’s phone) can't help but put a smile on your face. "Yeah, I’m sorry but I’m not gonna wanna it’s the time of day I can get my haircut" the duo harmonizes in a hallucinatory repetition that lend credence to that absurd excuse.

After that the album turns to the ethereal aspects of the band with "Dirt" and "Naked", albeit at stark ends of that feeling. "Dirt" yearns for love ("I want to be loved, I’m impatient") with the pairs voices soothing that painful waiting while "Naked" is seemingly fully in that love ("What a different way to live/Happy here with love to give") as it quickly treks along with sharp instrumentation.

"Hungry" is one of the few tracks on the album that let's itself indulge in some uninterrupted guitar madness, really finding itself in a massively loud explosion at it's finish. "Not God" teases you with a guitar rise that could have come crashing down, but thinks better of it ans stay steadfast as the lyrics question everything: "If you’re not God, then what are you?". While both these tracks hearken back to earlier Finom stylings like "Haircut", they completely shed themselves of it, too. That's honestly one of my favorite things about Stewart and Cunningham, their ability to be so malleable as it embracve what makes them uniquely them while pursuing the new and different.

Later on in the tracklisting comes "Cyclops",which is rife with violent fantastical/biblical imagery of it's title's creature and bloodied teeth before blurring the lines once the initial chorus of "Nobody cares about your band" launches. It then feels like it steps into a reality familiar to ours, ending shortly after another burst of that harsh chorus. It's the shortest song on the album, but it packs as much of a punch as the longer tracks.

It's on the final song on the album, "As You Are", another high point in Finom's discography, where everythign falls into place. It's the band at their clearest and my favorite track on the album. The song sets the table with some dark imagery ("I killed the bugs I called my friends and used their guts as ink") before finding Finom at it's most meditative and subsequently loving. "I will love you as you are, deep into my grave" Cunningham and Stewart sing with a full understanding of its finishing statement as much as the day to day reality ("All that you do, I want to do"). There are so many lines in the song that emanate this joyful connection. The song reminds be of the closing track of Fantasize Your Ghost "After All", another song of theirs that feels like an outlier but remains as true to the band's ethos. It's a perfect ending with its twinkling chimes before only drums lead listeners off.

You can listen to Not God on your favorite streaming platform or purchase the album over on Finom’s webstore, Joyful Noise Recording’s site, and Bandcamp. Finom will be playing a show TONIGHT at the Hideout with Alex Grelle. The show is sold out but they will also be performing at Metro on November 2nd. Tickets are $20 in advance.

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Julian Ramirez