Released: 15th October 2021
Most artists would struggle with a celebrity-obsessed world constantly casting them in the shadow of a more famous sibling. Working with little sis Billie Eilish, FINNEAS can already lay claim to having changed the musical landscape – but there’s little doubt that, no matter how smart and significant his contributions have been, the star power to date lies elsewhere. And honestly, that’s okay.
See, the refreshing thing about FINNEAS is the impression he’s not really all about the limelight. There’s never been any suggestion of jealously or competition within the family unit. Anyone who watched The World’s A Little Blurry – the documentary centred around the creation of Billie’s debut album – would have seen a supportive brother happy to help his sister show exactly how brilliant she could be. With a steady string of music put out in the build-up to debut album ‘Optimist’, it almost feels like he’s appreciated the ability to refine his own identity as a solo artist without the direct heat of the A list glare.
And find it he has. There’s something undeniably self-assured about FINNEAS’ music under his own name. This isn’t just the dark, primal zeitgeisty pop production with which he made his name with a different vocal over the top. It’s something altogether different. ‘Happy Now’ swoons with a certain swagger, immediate but timeless. ‘The 90s’ yearns for a life ‘without the internet’ through the kind of glitching, pulsing soundscape that recalls an especially tuneful dial-up modem, while ‘The Kids Are All Dying’ isn’t afraid to muse on the demands for anyone with a platform to constantly make a stand in a politically polarised, activist world on fire.
At times, ‘Optimist’ is a beautifully delicate record – ‘Love Is Pain’ twinkles like starlight, dealing in regrets and insecurity with the lightest of touches. At others, it’s strident, the dramatic punch of ‘Medieval’ confronting the fleeting nature of popularity head-on.
Few artists release a debut album with the kind of expectations FINNEAS finds himself under – all too aware of the comparisons that will be made. It’s to his credit that ‘Optimist’ pays heed to absolutely none of them. Making his own music in his own undeniable way, there’s no need to scream look at me to hold the attention. Confident in who he wants to be, FINNEAS is his own man.