It may be painful, but you gotta give Fred Durst credit for one thing: If you haven't seen the video for Limp Bizkit's breakout cover of "Faith" by George Michael, you might find it hard to believe that screaming -- the throat-shredding, nerve-grating kind that's typical of most underground hardcore music -- would ever be acceptable to mainstream music audiences. Yet acceptance -- though it has taken almost six years -- has finally come, and Temecula, California's Finch is capitalizing on it.
Finch's Jimmy Eat World-style pop sensibility is probably what clinches the deal for many listeners, but singer Nate Barcalow beefs up such emo conventions as swooning "whoa"s and sensitive lyrics with gut-wrenching screams, pitting disparate vocal elements against each other in order to mirror the quiet-to-loud dynamics of the group's instrumental performance. Barcalow's bandmates vary their melodic approach between bouncy pop-punk chords and delicate, arcing guitar lines, but they inevitably come on stronger for the chorus, channeling Quicksand's classic riffs-and-harmonics combination in order to pack a vertigo-inducing hardcore punch.
Finch couldn't have picked a better lead-off single than the title track from its debut album, What It Is to Burn, which is steadily creeping up the charts and earning regular rotation on stations like 92.3 Xtreme. "Burn" is easily the strongest cut on the album, which suffers from being overly consistent. After just four or five tracks, not even the Radiohead-inspired electronic flourishes can alleviate the feeling that you've heard everything Finch has to offer. Still, these kids show promise, and you've gotta have faith that one day they'll live up to it.