Crowded House - Intriguer

No comments

I really don’t know how professional CD reviewers have their reviews ready on the date of release.  Obviously get promotional copies in advance, but how far in advance?  Maybe they also get a full artist bio and talking points to help form their opinions of what is going on with band members, what inspired the music, what thematic elements can be found, etc.  But how many spins do they give a CD before they form their opinion?

Intriguer is one of those CD’s that I’ve listened to regularly since its release 4 months ago, and I’m only writing a review now to get it done by a self-imposed deadline of year end.  Neil Finn, the chief lyricist and songwriter, basically is the band.  I wasn’t a Crowded House fan back in their 1980’s heyday, but I became a Finn fan over the last 10 years on the strength of his solo releases.  When he resurrected Crowded House in 2005, I was okay with that, especially as the resulting CD, Time on Earth, was a “band” product only in the sense that the band accompanied what he had already worked out as a solo release.  I took to that one immediately.

Sounding definitely more of a band effort, Intriguer sounds like a more fully involved project in that there’s continuity to it in the way that it sounds.  Or maybe I only come to that opinion because I watched the band play the songs on the DVD that accompanied my copy.  I do know that I like it less, but I’m not certain how much Finn’s parodying moustache influenced that opinion.  Hey, at least I recognize the possible influence.  Dude, razor.

The CD opens with “Saturday Sun,” which begins with a plodding intro that somehow gets rescued by Finn’s propensity for musical hooks.  Still, it’s a failed single, and it was soundly thrashed by the hordes who downloaded it as an iTunes free single of the week.  “Archer’s Arrows” does a better job of exemplifying what intelligent pop can be, with a tune full of captivating turns but with lyrics that would defy pop radio interest.   “Amsterdam” is trademark Finn, telling a narrative story within a tune tailored to suit it.

Many of Finn’s observations are observational about priorities and the activity of living this life.  “Either Side of the World” is a good entry in this vein – “when you’re in luck / the world moves with you / whatever they want, you’ll turn yourself into / then you’re in hell / luxury and leisure never meant pleasure / we like it different / passion & commitment”

“Isolation” detours the musical direction, with shimmering guitars and an other-worldly sound before devolving at the end into something more raucous.  It’s a fine example of what is both the best and worst of this set of songs.  Finn has an abundance of melodic shifts that rarely let a monotonous section take hold.  On the other hand, there are a good number of passages that need those sparks. 

And after this realization comes “Twice if You’re Lucky,” the only song that strikes a great hook and works it throughout to a satisfactory ending.

Concluding the set is “Elephants,” a song that pokes at an impartial universe to those living in it.  This is indicative of the depths that Finn can mine in his lyrics, but it is hampered by the unfortunate inclusion:  “when elephants go down/ to the water hole at dusk / they feel the same as us about life / we’ll all take a drink / as the sun begins to sink.”  I’m not going to speculate about what elephants feel, but I can understand that they get thirsty.

It’s fair to say that this isn’t a CD that can just be played and enjoyed.  Aside from “Twice if You’re Lucky,” none of the songs have real traction after they’re heard.  They require close attention to the lyrics, or, better, reading the lyrics as you listen before you can really “connect” with them.  And, if you’re a download junkie, that’s too bad, because they’re included in the accompanying booklet.

Recommended Songs: “Archer’s Arrows” and “Twice if You’re Lucky”

3 of 5 STARS



No comments :

Post a Comment