If this album is anything to go by, there's an awful lot of adrenalin pumping through Liam Finn. Not because every song is a charging, 150bpm, ecstatic synth spinner like Burn Up The Road (which is utterly brilliant), but because even in the slower, murkier tracks there's a sense of crackling anticipation and a feeling that you're breathlessly bounding through an alternate world, trying to take it all in.
There's a lot to absorb - it's quite a far reach from the compelling singalongs of I'll Be Lightning, and it goes a step deeper than FOMO, but for all its inventiveness and incomparability, The Nihilist is completely engaging.
Straight-up pop songs these are not, but your ears will follow Finn down his late-night New York rabbit hole with eagerness to hear more.
Written and recorded over 12 months or so from a Green Point, Brooklyn studio, you can hear the nocturnal state Finn pushed himself into; getting manic and mad as he gazed across the metropolis in the wee hours, wondering about all the different stories unfolding down there. You see, The Nihilist is not the album of hopelessness and negativity the title might suggest, but rather an exploration of the idea that there might be more to it all than what we see and believe.
And that might sound a bit political, or philosophical, or dark for an indie-rock album. But it's actually great fun - in a stay-up-all-night kind of way.
Ocean Emmanuelle is a blue-tinged, surreal, romantic rumination underpinned by a beautifully lyrical bassline; I Am The Walrus is a fruity jam that sounds nothing like the 60s, but evokes the same hazy party.
There's a playful defiance to Helena Bonham Carter, a cosmic, sensual sway to Dreary Droop, and Miracle Glance is a strange cinematic parade through a slow-motion night that really takes off when brother Elroy's drumming comes in halfway through.
The beats at the base of 4 Track Stomper sound like they could've been written for M.I.A., which is the kind of experimentation that makes many of the tracks work - at first unlikely, but Finn makes them oddly palatable.
Arrow has similarly urban beats and a groove that blends the ease of a New Orleans second-line with spacey programming. I is equally weird, with hypnotic ostinato and breathy vocals, and layers of instrumentation slowly added until it reaches a joyful dawn.
The only songs that remind you we're still listening to the same guy who wrote Better To Be and I'll Be Lightning are Snug As F**k, with its soaring melodies; Wild Animal, with its bop-along rhythms that get bent soon enough; and Wrestle With Dad - a fitting end to proceedings. And wrestling with Dad is one thing Liam shouldn't be concerned with - there should be no comparisons to Finn snr here, or to anyone at all really. This album is a statement of creativity that will continue to reward.
Weird, inventive, and rewarding