FINNEAS' Debut Album 'Optimist' Arrives as a Heart-Rending and Timeless Record
Photo: Luke Fenstemaker
No other debut album has a perspective quite like FINNEAS'. Optimist is a project full of hindsight, masterfully crafted production, and surprise, warranted pessimism. Although this is not the singer, songwriter, and producer's first time releasing separate from his main collaborator and sister, Optimist is arguably the best introduction to FINNEAS, the artist and person.
It's a politically charged record, interwoven with deeply personal realizations. There's no denying that FINNEAS leaves a signature fingerprint on everything he touches, from Billie's music to his long list of A-list collaboratorations, but Optimist digs even deeper, exploring topics and sounds completely unique to his own artistry.
There are heavy themes unpacked throughout its 13-track run, ranging from politics, the fragility of life, wealth, and more. It's truly a testament to the turbulent times we’ve all experienced, told from a unique angle. For someone whose career skyrocketed months before the COVID-19 pandemic, and flourished throughout it, FINNEAS' perspective is pretty much singular to everyone but his sister. Opening the record with "A Concert Six Months From Now" could not be more potent and representative of his rare viewpoint. It's an intro of epic proportions, setting the tone for what listeners will find to be a hyper-realistic album.
Simultaneously cheeky and serious, "The Kids Are All Dying" is a show-stopping track with blunt lyricism and a captivating "Bennie And The Jets" sample. The upbeat, familiar tempo makes the devastating message hit even closer to home. After Finneas lists everything that's wrong with the world and questions if humankind was a mistake, he then contemplates the question we're all left with. How are we supposed to feel any sense of joy? In the following track, "Happy Now?," we start to hear the effects of finding success during such a tumultuous time. The production is upbeat and hypnotizing, with melancholic undertones that perfectly match the sardonic lyrical content.
In "Only A Lifetime" and its follow-up track, the previously released nostalgia-inducing single "The 90s," FINNEAS starts to explore the fleeting nature of life and the emotional attachment to the past. In a time where life and death is so relevant, "Only A Lifetime" is the gorgeous, heart-wrenching, piano ballad we all need.
Another unique aspect of a debut album like Optimist is its half-way point. Where most artists would insert an interlude, Finneas opts for a stunning piano etude with a title dedicated to his pet, "Peaches Etude." It's a standout moment and a testament to how his artistry is capable of evoking strong emotions even words are left unspoken.
The conclusion of Optimist is a much-needed release. With so many difficult topics covered throughout the record, "How It Ends" serves as a well-deserved moment of catharsis. It's designed for you to dance away the pain and boldly contradicts the message established throughout the previous tracks. To close out such a “realist" album, FINNEAS relishes in a moment of infectious optimism, even if it’s only wishful thinking.
Optimist is a triumphant debut record that frees itself of any and all expectations and simply presents FINNEAS' innermost thoughts against an array of striking production and songwriting. It's a handbook of life lessons and a reflection of a truly timeless artist.
Listen to Optimist below: