Once described as Jack Johnson with “soul and balls”, Fink’sHard Believeris both familiar and surprising, though perhaps not as groundbreaking as fans hoped.

Textured guitars, with an emphasis on heavy basslines and distorted rhythms, give this record more edge than 2011’s Perfect Darkness. The only resemblance to Jack Johnson is the lazy Sunday listening quality in Fink’s voice. A DJ in a former musical life, this LP is his densest slow-burner to date. The title track opens with an ambling bass part before building to Fink’s blues-heavy verse. It wouldn’t be particularly interesting if it were not slowed right down. The effect is something close to bluegrass with indie rock overtones.

The whole album feels like a build up to something, with slow, heavy riffs throughout. The exception may be ‘Looking Too Closely’, a lighter, more nimble track. Piano and an intricate guitar melody work in tangent to lift the vocals towards the crescendo.

The fragmented style of this album gives listeners a chance to experience different sides of Fink, but it also stunts the growth of a unique signature sound. That was the promise of Perfect Darkness, and while this record is still dense and enjoyable, it doesn’t quite follow through.

2.5/5 Stars

Hard Believer is out on July 14 through Ninja Tune/Inertia.

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