Graham Reid | | 2 min read
From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this one which comes in a gatefold sleeve with a lyric booklet . . .
Many years ago Neil Finn observed that bands had a natural life-span: The Beatles, Split Enz, his own Crowded House which played its farewell concert in November 96 at the Sydney Opera House to over 200,000.
Creative impasses, internal strife and fatigue conspire against longevity.
However some survive: the Rolling Stones (musically irrelevant for decades), Fleetwood Mac through many reinventions, and Finn's own band of which he would say in 2001, “We didn't have maybe as long as I would have liked with Crowded House”.
So, after a solo decade, Finn reformed the band in 06 for its second coming which toured, recorded, retired and, after his recent spell in Fleetwood Mac, Crowded House has resurrected itself again (with Finn's multi-instrumental sons Liam and Elroy) and released Dreamers Are Waiting.
Crowded House – their former producer/keyboard player Mitchell Froom and founding bassist Nick Seymour alongside the three Finns – has created distinctively different music under that imprimatur and, promisingly, this iteration extends it further.
On his solo album Dizzy Heights (2014), Neil Finn engaged with a dreamy, psychedelic soul, as did Elroy on his 2019 self-titled album. That style touches To the Island here, notably in its languid instrumental coda, and subtly informs much of the album, creating a coherence despite the diversity of its source material.
Liam get two solo writing credits; the excellent centre-pieces Show Me The Way (imagistic, brooding) and Goodnight Everyone, the latter among the few identifiable “Crowdies” pop song here.
It leads to the equally fine and familiar Too Good For This World, a Neil co-write with brother Tim, which in turn sets up the glorious Liam-Neil dreamscape of Start of Something.
Other songs come from Neil alone, or various co-writes within the band.
In typically idiosyncratic artwork by Seymour, Dreamers Are Waiting cleaves close enough to the Finn – and Finns -- song-craft to be recognisably Crowded House.
But with unusual effects (check the catchy Sweet Tooth), distinctively different guitar voicings, the breadth from driving and chiming pop (Love Isn't Hard At All, an Elroy-Neil co-write) through the bitter Whatever You Want to those breathy slightly-delic ballads, the album has depth and dove-tailed dimension, as where the nautical metaphor of Neil's McCartney-like Deeper Down follows ocean references in Elroy-Neil's Love Isn't Hard At All.
Dreamers Are Waiting is a nuanced, emotionally shapeshifting collection capturing these strange times when we vacillate between fatalism (the apocalyptic Playing with Fire, “we're driving straight to the wall”), emotional distance and disappointment (Love Isn't Hard At All for the former, and Too Good For This World for the latter) and escapist optimism (To The Island).
And there's what sounds like Neil's nod to Mac's Stevie Nicks on Real Life Woman.
These are slow-burning songs of the private world and the public domain, of shadow thoughts and shafts of redemptive light.
Crowded House has, again, been astutely and successfully reinvented from within.
Dreamers Are Waiting is available now on digital platforms, CD and limited edition vinyl