Home Album Reviews Rock Album Review: Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines

Album Review: Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines

Juno award winning Finger Eleven return with their first album in five years with yet another new style.  How will this album’s change up compare to their many others?


Text Review:

When a band changes their style it can be a defining moment of their talent and fanbase .  There have been many examples of a band progressing into something different and succeeding, while there have been others leaving fans confused and betrayed on why their group would change their sound.

There have not been many bands that have gone through as many style changes over the years as Finger Eleven.  From the alt rock days of Tip to the harder and darker Greyest of Blue Skies to the more upbeat and pop-rock style level of Them Vs You Vs Me, this band has seemed to have a unique and different sound on every album they release dating back to the days of being Rainbow Butt Monkeys.

While many long time fans of Canada’s Finger Eleven may argue over which sound and album was best and may stay in want for a return from the days of Tip and Greyest of Blue Skies, the band has proven success even with the style changes in consistently selling albums and earning Juno nominations.

The tradition of changing styles from album to album continues with their 2015 entry Five Crooked Lines.  In the Press Release from the Bicycle Music Company, it opened with the statement: “When Ontario, Canada rockers Finger Eleven decided to start writing the follow-up to their 2012 album Life Turns Electric, the band members all agreed they wanted to do something different, they just weren’t exactly sure what they wanted to do.”

It has been five years since the last Finger Eleven album titled Life Turns Electric.  In June the music video for the featured single Wolves and Doors was released.  This was the first look at the band in years and was the first listen at the unknown direction of the next album.

The funk and style in the guitar work is what stands out in this song, along with an extremely impressive guitar solo.  It is reminiscent of past songs scattered throughout their discography but still unique for the band.  Lyrically it is a difficult song to get behind and sing along with.  That’s not to say the lyrics aren’t understandable, but it doesn’t give that instant desire to sing along.

I personally remember feeling this way with Finger Eleven’s self-titled album and the later Them vs You vs Me.  You can tell the talent is there and there is a passion behind the performance, but for some reason there is just nothing to attach to.

There are moments that will build hope and anticipation in this album and give you the impression that something intense is coming.  With those moments may come a few anti-climatic feelings where the expected explosion doesn’t deliver.

The opening of Gods of Speed is a great start to an album and has a great build, but it feels like the payoff isn’t there.  Once again the guitar riffs and rhythm are excellent and vocals unique, but it just feels underwhelming.  Like Wolves and Doors, you can tell the talent is there but it’s just hard to get into the song.

Throughout Five Crooked Lines there is a obvious sense that these men love music and love to be in the moment of the groove, but while listening you keep hoping for something more.  Whether it’s wishing for something reminiscent of their early works or something exciting to blow you away, you end up being only moderately satisfied with what is presented.

It is always admirable when a band is consistently trying new things and never satisfied with status quo.  The unfortunate side of that quality is that there will always be fans who wish for past works to relish in and want to hear more of a similar fashion.  No matter how talented the musicians are.

Overall, Finger Eleven have proven they still have the ability and desire to play with Five Crooked Lines.  While long time fans may or may not embrace the consistently rougher tone in this album, it is safe to say they won’t be turned off either.  As for new fans, it may be better to check out their past material to get acquainted with their best works.