Eve Parker Finley Confronts the Darkness on 'In the End'

Photo: Stacy Lee, Justin Karas

BY Anthony BoirePublished Feb 13, 2024


On her sophomore full-length album, Eve Parker Finley employs lush orchestration and colourful pop sensibility to paint a relentlessly optimistic vision of the end times. The Montreal multi-instrumentalist, comedian and creator shows off her most direct songwriting and ambitious performances yet across In the End, co-written with rising ambient composer Nick Schofield. Sounding more assured than ever, Finley's vocals sit high in the mix atop of a dense whirlwind of keys, strings and electronics. 

In the End is a massive step into the light after her comparatively stark 2020 debut Chrysalia. Where that record featured low-key and infrequent singing, In the End is packed with pop vocal melody from start to finish. And while Finley lays herself bare here, there are grandiose moments on the record that call out for an even more bombastic approach.

Take the disco stomping, chiming single “Fall Into Me” and its climactic bridge — She’s just finished interrogating a moment of dangerous self-doubt, asking “Why do I sing if I’m still ashamed? / Will I be safe if I don’t behave?” before a brief pause. When the final chorus comes back into focus, there’s a feeling of restraint in the layered vocals. It’s a song mired in themes of longing and self-reckoning (a common touchstone across In the End) and it would’ve hit that much harder had Finley really let it rip. This is the case on many of the pop-oriented songs in the front half of the record. There’s a suite of personally fractious, contradicting indie pop here – many of the songs dealing with self-love contrasted with self-loathing and the push-pull relationships we often have with our loved ones. At times the sonics feel trepidatious, just shy of matching the intensity of the narratives.

Conversely, quieter, pleading tunes like the neo-classical string epic “The Mirror” and album closer “Dirge for a New World” really work with her more subdued instincts. It’s almost a narrative album, and “The Mirror” marks a turning point where Finley finally confronts herself and chooses self-love, despite pushing loved ones away and swarming doubts expressed earlier in the record. Her sense of identity feels solid here. It’s one of the strongest songs on the album, and her masterful, tasteful piano and strings really shine, complementing the symphonic percussion and gorgeous vocal choices.

Things get apocalyptic on “Beautiful Fool,” where Finley mourns humanity’s failings; “Tell me why / You failed to look ahead / Let the earth run dry / Oh my beautiful fool.” While some have compared Finley to fellow Canadian neo-classical powerhouse Owen Pallett, she charts her own path on those less electronically-infused ballads. Her strings are a call-and-response with the mournful vocals, and they intertwine fantastically on the final crescendo where she almost forgives the titular fool. Schofield’s ambient sensibilities swell on “Forest Meditation” — it’s a return to the primordial woods after looking into the cataclysmic void. It’s a welcome, nurturing breather on a record that veers between the intensely personal and the globally catastrophic. Finley croons softly with birdsong as gentle synth swells and heartbreaking strings rise and fall in the reverie. It’s a reflection on everything worth saving. The brief but crucial “Fall Into Me (Reprise)” does its best to tie this existential dread to the earlier jolts of personal pop.

The immediately striking closer “Dirge for a New World” trades in hope and catharsis. After a gorgeous swell of textures, a solo piano and vocal begins the tune proper. “There’s so much space to mend / And in that space / Anything is possible” she sings in dual harmony. It’s another high point for the record, where Schofield and Finley find a perfect balance between their sensibilities.

On In the End, Eve Parker Finley marries her desire for indie pop stardom with an ambitious set of sonics and themes, sometimes wildly disparate but always engaging. Her kaleidoscopic approach to neo-classical ballads grows with each outing, and her vocal stylings are growing in tandem. The multimedia savante may be confronting finality, but her artistic future is brighter than ever. If the bangers keep coming, however, here’s hoping she feels the freedom to give herself over completely.

(Rare Opals Club)

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