Best Tracks: Saturday Sun; Amsterdam; Even If; Elephants
Crowded House’s 6th Studio album, and their 2nd since their 2007 comeback. With the exception of some horrible 80s production, Crowded House have always produced magnificent, original music, and when they released Time on Earth in 2007, after an 11-year hiatus, nothing had changed. Neil Finn has to be one of the most underrated men in music today. He has it all; the ability to pen tunes that stick in the head and refuse to leave; a poet’s way with words, and the voice to broadcast his songs to the world.
Intriguer is another, excuse the pun, intriguing offering from Finn and Co., but is it any good? The short answer to that is ‘Yes. Yes it is’. But it’s not without its flaws. Falling Dove, though undoubtedly nice enough to listen to, is rather bland, and plods along like a weary old shire horse with one eye on the stud farm. Either Side Of The World is another track that doesn’t quite cut my mustard, and is just a little too twee for my taste. The inclusion of Finn’s wife Sharon’s vocals on two of the tracks was also a poor decision, in my opinion. Her lack of vocal depth is buried amongst a haze of effects, and, family loyalties aside, I can’t help but think it would’ve been a better idea to get a pro in.
Disappointing moments are pretty rare, however, for the majority of Intriguer grabs and holds the attention, even if it does take a number of listens to appreciate the songs fully (Saturday Sun took an eternity to grow on me), and after a few listens, I found myself humming the tunes long after the CD had stopped playing, just like I have done with the rest of Neil Finn’s work. Highlights include Amsterdam, with its broody melody and arrangement complimented perfectly by descriptive, almost Tom Waits-esque lyrics (‘And the Lord walked in, with a monocle and lips so thin/I saw the barman wink as he poured his brandy’); Mark Hart’s sublime Marxophone playing on Saturday Sun, and Elephants, the album’s closer, which sounds like a bleary-eyed pub singalong just before closing time.
Another fine addition to the Neil Finn catalogue, and despite taking a while to ‘grow on me’, this really is an album that improves with every listen.