Fink have done themselves a bit of a disservice with their name choice. A nickname for their grievously underrated frontman, Fin Greenall, the word suggests something glib, trivial and flippant — three adjectives that could never be reasonably applied to Fink's music. Over the last five years or so, the British trio has modestly assembled a catalogue of somber, brooding and unabashedly intelligent folk. At its best, it has managed the difficult trick of balancing claustrophobic intimacy with a thrillingly panoramic sense of scale.
Perfect Darkness, Fink's best album thus far, includes several examples of their rare knack for making epic ideas sound appealingly diffident, and vice versa. The title track clocks in just short of seven minutes, and recalls the Red House Painters' knack for sweeping ballads that somehow never imposed themselves or outstayed their welcome. The nearly-country "Save It For Somebody Else," while every bit as aggrieved and vindictive as its title, refuses to lapse into melodrama, Greenall's voice parched and guttural, evocative of fellow growling consumptives Bill Callahan and Mark Lanegan.
Perfect Darkness is not quite an apposite title: Though the overwhelming tone of the album is one of desolation and grief, Fink do have a mildly playful side, heard on the rugged Tim Hardin pastiche "Wheels." Greenall's lyrics also frequently acknowledge the blurry line separating comedy from tragedy: "Honesty" and "Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us" are minor masterclasses in the kind of laughing barely distinguishable from crying.