CD Review of The End of History by Fionn Regan

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The End of History
starstarstarno starno star Label: Lost Highway
Released: 2007
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For most of the ‘90s, guys who performed plaintive, acoustic guitar-based lullabies (or folk dirges, depending on your point of view) couldn’t get arrested on the radio. Possibly as a result of the acoustic guitar being so thoroughly slandered and abused during hair metal’s power ballad era, the gatekeepers of the airwaves made sure listeners were fed a steady diet of volume and/or irony for close to a decade.

Coincidentally, “close to a decade” is about as long as it takes for everything old in music to be new again, which is why, as we entered the 21st century, the plaintive, acoustic-guitar-based sounds of artists like David Gray were such a “breath of fresh air” and a “new beginning” for “real singer/songwriters.” And this is why the flood of tousle-haired, doe-eyed troubadours we’ve enjoyed (or endured, depending on your point of view) can at least semi-accurately be termed The Trend What David Gray Hath Wrought.

This type of music, like blood pudding and rain, is always more popular in Britain; hence, a slew of four-star reviews for Fionn Regan’s The End of History in the British press, complete with all kinds of talk about his genius and originality. This is what your English teacher would have called “hyperbole.”

Regan isn’t bad, and neither is The End of History, particularly if you can’t find your copy of White Ladder or Damien Rice’s O; what it also isn’t, however, is a work of originality or genius. For sad twentysomethings with delusions of grandeur and a lot of alone time, it’s easy to see how these twelve songs could form a sort of emotional touchstone, but really, there isn’t a single thing Regan does here that hasn’t been done before on a lot of better albums. His more-or-less strict adherence to a bedroom-studio aesthetic is refreshing, and the record’s overall vibe is appropriately, gently melodramatic, but at the end of the day, he doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot to distinguish himself from the big names in what’s becoming a very crowded field. Still, he’s a lot easier on the ears than, say, Conor Oberst. Perhaps we can arrange a trade with the UK.

~Jeff Giles