In Exile – Hanging By A Thread

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Album Review by Adam Foster

I don’t suppose that Keni Fink (otherwise known as ‘In Exile’) is much worse a songwriter than most middle-aged Californian soft-rockers. The problem may simply be that he doesn’t have the resources to give these songs their best.

HANGING BY A THREAD sounds cheaply produced, its “crazy synths” (his words) attempting to cover up for the lack of personnel, resources and inspiration. Nonetheless, Fink tries to be inventive. The songs range from ZZ Top-like southern rock (HANGING BY A THREAD), through gentle reggae (WONDER), to rap that sounds sadly like Falco (he of ROCK ME AMADEUS fame) and, bizarrely, HOW LONG, which sounds like a tribute to They Might Be Giants.

And it is in the quirkiness of HOW LONG that Fink finds the best use for his wavering, quirky voice. When he tries to sing about love – or worse, rap about anything – it just doesn’t wash. The best moments on the album are probably the instrumentals – not just because Fink doesn’t sing, but because the tracks tend to be humorous, and atypically original (although AM I ME? manages to answer its own question in the negative by giving a nod to no less than three Stranglers tracks).

There are more than a few reminders of MIAMI VICE here, and the whole thing is blighted by sub- Van Halen guitar solos. But there is the occasional spark of originality: you wouldn’t want a whole album of the instrumental stuff, but it might be a place to start.

2 stars