When I first fell for Crowded House, everything about music was a mystery. I couldn’t tell a bass from a banjo. I couldn’t tell a bridge from a coda. At best, I could tell you a key change is where the song gets a bit more exciting. As a band that I loved in my youth, I hold them dearly, but also see them through a mist of nostalgia.
So it’s lucky that the record is fantastic. It also helps that, as a solo artist, Neil Finn has continued to deliver great records. And if I’m honest, whether this was a Neil record or a Crowded House record, it would mean the same to me.
Don’t Stop Me was such a weird song. Could it stand up with the classics? It was pleasant enough on first listen. And on repeated listens, it really warms up, and you realise there’s something weird going on, lyrically. I’ve had quite a few conversations this year about this song, mostly along the lines of, it’s good, isn’t it? Which is the thing, Neil just let the song talk us into it.
Gorgeous, subtle moments abound. Nobody Wants To is so relaxed, it’s like a Whiskeytown ballad. Pour Le Monde, although sounding a bit like Coldplay’s The Scientist, is full of confidence. Slow burning (and long, for CH), it’s a song about the current war. Which makes the only really poppy moment, She Called Up, stand out all the more.
And yes, there is a stench of death on this record. If not directly taken from Paul Hester, the theme of losing people here. Most of the record is steeped in sadness, but not in a whiny, woe-is-I way.
My favourite song, and very much not indicative of the album, is You Are The Only One To Make Me Cry. Recalling Tim Finn’s All I Ask from Woodface, it’s a string laden jazzy ballad. No one can touch this guy when he wants to write a really song-y song. This is pretty much showing off for such a master songwriter. And like most Finn songs, I don’t know who he is thinking of in that song, but I know who I think of when I hear it. Oh, the power of songs.
I can’t think of another reunion album I’ve liked as much. But again, I’ve bought an album by Neil Finn every couple of years anyway. And I don’t care who’s name is on the cover, I just, as always, look forward to some more songs by Neil Finn.