Crowded House aren’t exactly the coolest name to drop in casual conversation. The kinda-Kiwi-but-formed-in-Melbourne outfit are perhaps too pleasant on the ear, too classic in their approach to win over the hipper than thou tastemakers. But y’know what? Screw ‘em! Crowded House make songs would bands can only dream about – in fact, slap some ironic inverted commas around those hits and you’d find the online clout-chasers streaming until their fingers bled.
‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ is the first Crowded House since 2010 and we have no regrets in saying it’s a joy. If you like your songwriting direct, your melodies honeyed, and your lyrics bittersweet then you, my friend, are in the right place. Neil Finn’s pen remains as adept as ever, while the arrangements touch on the organic songsmithery that made albums such as ‘Woodface’ so potent.
‘Bad Times Good’ is a hypnotic opener, all wisps of sound and smoky harmonies. ‘Playing With Fire’ runs along with an easy-going strut, while ‘To The Island’ is a top-down highway burner.
A band who clearly relish making music together – which wasn’t always the case – Crowded House tap back into familiar sounds while adding fresh elements. ‘Sweettooth’ yelps against its purring Southern soul organ, while ‘Show Me The Way’ has an urgency to its spacious vocal.
The latin-element of ‘Goodnight Everyone’ is uniquely drowsy, a sharp contrast to the Bakersfield reverb that clings to each note of ‘Start Of Something’. Ending with the jaunty Beatles-esque ‘Deeper Down’, it’s a comeback record replete with moments of charm and idiosyncrasy.
Perhaps too slick for some, the Crowded House catalogue has never been afraid to be open. Maybe that’s a fault, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with a slice of innocence and songwriting purity in a landscape so smothered with irony. As the band themselves put it: ‘Too Good For This World’.
Words: Robin Murray
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