Finer Spirit find voice, double down on ambition on new EP



When I interviewed Finer Spirit about four months ago, they offered me tea as soon as I sat down in their mini art-gallery of a living room. The house was extremely tidy, but also densely decorated. It was as if a large hipster coffeehouse had closed down and all its contents had been rearranged in a much smaller space.

Sitting down with the band’s debut EP “Well As You Pretend,” the arrangement makes sense. Finer Spirit makes warm, sprawling alternative rock with an unshakable composure. However, in place of arrangement density, Finer Spirit traffics in something much more valuable — ambition.

Finer Spirit is certainly steeped in the atmospheric heartland rock of U2 and their descendants, The War on Drugs, but their songwriting is already matching the complexity of those groups’ best work. Opener and lead single “Wednesday Night” wastes no time in demonstrating the band’s prowess. The track effortlessly slips between waves of synth ambience and elegant drum grooves.

Thought it boasts recognizable verses and a soaring chorus, “Wednesday Night” constantly shapeshifts between bridges and interludes that propel the track forward without losing focus. Ultimately, it crescendos to a gorgeous, driving guitar riff that recasts the track’s established elements in a new mold.

“Wednesday Night” stands as an incredibly impressive construction for a new group, and Finer Spirit delivers on its promise through the end of the record. No song falls into predictable territory; the band consistently detours from pop song structures into instrumental sections without losing focus. The atmosphere built around each track is lush, but the band never uses it as a crutch. The resulting EP is exquisitely balanced and satisfyingly complex.

Given how cohesive Finer Spirit’s sound is, it can be easy to miss how accomplished the individual performances are on each track. Lead singer Caleb Curry’s clear, passionate vocals cut through each soundscape, traversing emotional highs and measured lows with poise. Nathan Harrison’s soulful lead guitar trades off with Curry’s vocals and often propels several of the tracks toward their musical peaks.

Rhythm section Tyler Bowers (bass) and Rylan Waller (drums) add just enough variation to warrant close listening without pulling the focus away from Finer Spirit’s melodies. Will Morris’ synth arrangements flesh out the spacey sound without pushing into the territory of cheese or blurriness.

There really isn’t a weak spot in the lineup, which is key to a band who is clearly striving for — and achieving — a cohesive atmospheric sound. As a result, “Well As You Pretend” registers as a fresh, futuristic record, despite engaging deeply with past records in the genre.

On the record’s clear highlight, “Wasteland,” Finer Spirit moves seamlessly through stripped-down acoustic sections, heart-pounding rhythmic builds, and a ripping guitar solo. It’s a dazzling display of a wide but controlled range. “Well As You Pretend” displays a band that has found a sound, but has the talent and ambition to take more risks in the future. If this record is anything to go by, they’ll succeed wildly.

Rating: 3.8/5