“You’re Fired” were the words Finneas used to introduce the world to his new track called “Where The Poison Is.” In a departure from previous music, this track has got a decidedly darker and rockier production that would fit a Billie Eilish song perfectly. It’s playful but poignant and a delicious diss track of the current US President.
It should perhaps not be all that surprising that artists’ music would take a turn towards the dark, given the state of the world. Finneas has certainly shown how the creative process can be one of catharsis, as his 2020 singles have all had a decidedly more political undertone. “What They’ll Say About Us” was a rousing ballad, addressing how hard it can be to hope for better days – but recognizing how necessary it is to keep fighting for change. “Can’t Wait To Be Dead” was focused on the devastating effects of internet trolls on mental health, and saw Finneas explore a more rocky and folk-inspired soundscape. With “Where The Poison Is,” he adds another beautiful stand-alone track to his 2020 collection, showing how effortlessly he’s able to switch genres without losing any authenticity.
The way in which the song has been released in response to reality makes it hit even harder, as Finneas waited for the US election outcome prior to dropping the track. Aside from the clear contempt and cynicism in the lyrics, the rocky and raw production further emphasize the underlying resentment. It’s understandable, given the fact that the US is living through multiple crises at the same time – a health crisis, climate crisis, a gun violence crisis, and an overall identity crisis.
Relying on his usual blunt style of lyricism, Finneas takes no prisoners when he sings “can’t say I’m proud to be American,” and connects these crises directly to the President himself. “When all of my friends get sick, it’s on the president.” In the chorus, the president gets compared to a snake due to his poisonous rhetoric, with Finneas later referring to the White House as “the place where the poison is.” Considering the White House turned into a superspreader location, he’s not that far off.
Most of all, even though the song’s clearly fueled by anger and cynicism, there’s also disbelief in the fact that not everyone sees the poisonous snake. Indeed, even four years into an incredibly destabilizing presidency, not everyone recognized that the Emperor had never been wearing any clothes after all. In a way, the song should reflect hopelessness. And yet, because of its timing – it doesn’t. Because the curtain has fallen on this poisoned President, and the 46th President-elect is waiting to take his place. And while Finneas recognizes there’s more than enough issues awaiting the new President, “Once we put this all behind us / We get to go right back to school shootings and a climate crisis,” at least the poison won’t be coming from the White House directly anymore.
It will be interesting to see what a new sociopolitical climate will mean for Finneas’ music and if it will result in a return to airier production as well. Here’s to hoping it won’t, because the cynical rock he’s introduced with “Where The Poison Is” fits him like a glove.
Listen to Finneas’ protest track “Where The Poison Is” here: