British singer-songwriter Fin Greenall, under the name Fink, has crafted a mellow acoustic-driven album of mostly traditional, mostly dark songs in Perfect Darkness. Primarily using a finger-picked acoustic guitar, played with a high amount of technique, Fink augments his soulful voice with a tasteful bit of reverb and a bit of bass, occasionally adding a full band for a little atmosphere. Aside from that, this is an album about Fink, his guitar and his songs.
Fink is an accomplished guitarist—his finger-picked stylings are rhythmically and structurally complex, incorporating triplets and counterpoint while keeping a bass and a chord structure. The fact that he can do this at all is impressive; the fact that he incorporates his “dark blues” voice while playing is more so.
The songs themselves are tense and cavernous, with the axis falling between “melancholy” and “cool anger.” Lyrics are usually about dysfunctional relationships, and Greenall isn’t breaking any new ground there (“Good things don’t last forever,” etc). Really, the focus is on atmosphere, and the dynamic interplay between Greenall’s slurring baritone and his brilliant acoustic playing.
That said, bluesy voicings and moody guitars only go so far. On Perfect Darkness, Fink’s songs rarely stray from a mellow groove that Greenall seems comfortable writing inside—the only time the music escalates at all is in instrumental codas like in “Who Says,” when the drums and moody electric guitar kick in. Even then, the album is less haunting than it strives to be, less moody, less important. Greenall’s voice doesn’t ever rise above an abdominal murmur the entire album, sometimes painfully evoking modern rock voices (Gavin DeGraw, Chris Daughtry, etc) in the process. This isn’t fair; Fink’s music is more soulful than anyone on modern rock radio (except Shinedown, those guys really speak to me, man, y’know?). It’s just that with such unvarying structures and instrumentation, Fink skirts the wrong side of generic. Perfect Darkness becomes half a dip in lukewarm water, when it should be a moody walk on a cloudy day.