FINNEAS is an eight-time Grammy award-winning producer and singer-songwriter. Most of the world knows him as pop-star Billie Eilish’s older brother, Finneas Baird O’Connell. He and Eilish are the creative duo behind the writing and producing of her songs. He has also produced many successful songs that have gone viral and climbed the charts, such as Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love me,” JP Saxe and Julia Michael’s “If the World was Ending” and Ashe’s “Moral of the Story.” Apart from his background work in production, O’Connell is slowly getting the attention he deserves with his own musical endeavors: he is at the forefront as FINNEAS. He released an EP featuring seven songs in October 2019 called “Blood Harmony,” which was praised by many. “Optimist” is his first full album which was released this year on Oct. 15.
“Optimist” contains hits such as “What They’ll Say About Us,” which gained popularity due to the story behind the song. O’Connell said in an interview with “The Rolling Stone” that the song is about Amanda Kloots and her then-husband Nick Cordero’s fight against COVID-19. He wrote the song through Amanda’s lens, while her husband was battling COVID-19 in a medically induced coma, and the George Floyd protests that were all over the news were also taken into consideration. Another one of his major songs on this album is “A Concert Six Months from Now.” This is the second song of this album that was released before the full record. Its falsettos and instrumentals gave listeners a sneak peak of what the rest of the album would sound like — or what many thought it would sound like.
Apart from these two songs, the rest of “Optimist” is not as good as I’d hoped. The songs hit all of the extremes, from piano ballads to techno and highly produced works, but the album has no apparent theme that ties everything together. Its title also doesn’t seem to make any connections through the songs. Now, don’t get me wrong — at 24 years old, FINNEAS is a very talented artist who is still growing and finding his voice in his music. He has proficiency in writing lyrics, using metaphors and word plays that many artists have yet to master. Just like how Taylor Swift has strong command in her songwriting skills, O’Connell has the power to transform his lyrics into melodies and common sounds into creative touches that many enjoy. “The Kids Are All Dying” is one of my favorite songs on the album that has so much potential with its catchy beat and down-to-earth charm as well as its controversial lyrics, “I tried saving the world but then I got bored.” Some songs on the album are piano ballads that offer nuggets of wisdom for all to hear: “Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass / […] You’re not gonna like it without any love / So don’t waste it.” As a whole, this album has some songs that are worthy of adding to your playlists. The more I listen to the songs, the more I seem to like them. So, make sure you give this album a chance because it won’t be the last you’ll hear of FINNEAS.