FINNEAS releases mostly melancholic and nondescript ‘Optimist’

The album fails to break ground, featuring only a few good tracks.

Emily Coffey, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Optimist” dropped Oct. 15, already garnering millions of streams on Spotify alone. From re-defining the industry with sister Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell’s own album dares high numbers from his notoriety alone. The expectations for it, however, are equally high. 

OPTIMISM DASHED 

The album opens with “A Concert Six Months From Now,” a rather despondent track chock-full of lyrical genius. It is from this track that the album draws its title: 

And this fall, they’re playin’ the Hollywood Bowl/ I’ve already purchased two seats for their show/ I guess I’m an optimist,” he sings in the first verse. 

The song is about the pandemic stealing valuable show and tour time from artists, a pain he and his sister certainly felt. However, it is also paired with a metaphor of hope that he and an ex would get back together. It rises and falls, as acoustic guitar starts the song, while ambient sounds of crowds cheering float in between verses. Then, at 1:45, the song takes an unexpected turn, much like “Happier Than Ever,” the title track of Eilish’s album with heavy drums and an edgy electric guitar. 

This track is genius— but the trend mostly continues downward after this. “The Kids Are All Dying,” “Happy Now?” and “Medieval” keep interest with snappy beats, heartbreaking lyrics and varied instrumentation. However when “Only a Lifetime” hits, the album hits a wall. 

O’Connell is a master of gorgeous, sleepy piano ballads. This strong advantage is taken too liberally on this album. He hoards them, then follows with almost nondescript and borderline obnoxious tracks like “The 90s.” The song bemoans crises like global warming and the technological revolution while offering no optimism. 

Peaches Etude” is another example of this trend, presumably about his pitbull he owns with his girlfriend, Claudia Sulewski, who is named peaches. It is well written, and sounds like floating on a river, adding to the heap of tracks that are dangerously uneventful. 

NOT EXACTLY PESSIMIST 

The album, as a whole, explores themes like relationships, global crises and problems on social media. On “The Kids Are All Dying,” O’Connell sings about cancel culture. 

They say you’re problematic and you better take it back/ There’s nothing you can do that pеople won’t misunderstand,” he sings in the second verse. 

This distaste for the chaos in the media is echoed in “Medieval.” 

What does it matter if you’re not fine?/ You should’ve kept that s— offline.” He sings in verse one. 

In “What They’ll Say About Us,” it seems that O’Connell is attempting a serious dialogue on the current state of the United States and abroad. This album is especially thick with politicism and jabs, either igniting the listener to follow in the writer’s anger, or leaving an unnecessarily bitter end.

CLOSING ACT

The album is not pessimistic, though. On “Love is Pain,” the album comes into glorious focus. It is terribly human and heavy, theatric and featuring O’Connell’s signature dramaticism.  

We go through life, we play pretend/ Act like it doesn’t have to end/ It’s all alright until your friend runs a red light/ You watch his car burst into flames/ Love is pain, ” O’Connell sings in the last chorus.

The album is really, then, a love note to the world. After complaining about the world’s ache, it becomes clear that if anything, O’Connell is not unempathetic. 

5 2 votes
Article Rating
close

Enjoying The Chimes? Subscribe to our newsletter!