Re­vived Crowdies raise the roof in time

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music -

THE ti­tle sug­gests thoughts of mor­tal­ity are creep­ing into Neil Finn’s song­writ­ing, but if age is in­flu­enc­ing the 49- year- old’s think­ing, his mu­sic, like that of all truly great song­writ­ers, re­mains time­less. It’s al­most 14 years since To­gether Alone , the album con­sid­ered to be Crowded House’s swan song be­fore Finn and bassist Nick Sey­mour de­cided to turn what was Finn’s next solo album into stage two of Crowded House’s ca­reer. It’s hard to imag­ine, on re­peated lis­ten­ing, how it could have been any other way. The chim­ing gui­tar mo­tifs that colour the end of the open­ing song, No­body Wants To , could slot eas­ily into To­gether Alone , the dark­est and most son­i­cally ad­ven­tur­ous of Crowded House’s first four stu­dio al­bums. That sense of con­ti­nu­ity and time­less­ness is ap­par­ent on all 14 songs here, with a typ­i­cal wealth of hooks and in­ter­twin­ing melodies ooz­ing out of them. It’s eas­ier to pick out the blem­ishes than the abun­dant high­lights. Tran­sit Lounge , for ex­am­ple, has Finn tack­ling an un­gainly soul falsetto over cheesy funk. On the bal­lad You are the One to Make Me Cry , Finn’s croon is too pretty, es­pe­cially when matched with the lush string ar­range­ment. Nei­ther song is dull, but they are sur­rounded by ra­di­ant jew­els. Don’t Stop Now, She Called Up, Say That Again , Pour Le Monde, Walked Her Way Down and Even a Child ( co- writ­ten with Johnny Marr) are all spec­tac­u­lar, hook- laden pop songs, while the heav­ier Silent House is sullen, dis­torted and beau­ti­ful all at once. Three pro­duc­ers, three stu­dios, four drum­mers and Finn’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily are all listed here, but most of the credit must go to the man him­self: a singer, gui­tarist and song­writer who finds it al­most im­pos­si­ble to write any­thing ap­proach­ing or­di­nary.

Iain Shed­den

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