Friday, August 15, 2014

Crowded House 7: Intriguer

The last Crowded House album to date is another one in name only. While Intriguer does feature the core quartet established by the previous album (and tour) on all tracks, it’s still more in the style of Neil Finn’s solo work, hermetically sealed and lacking the wackiness that made their ‘80s work so addictive.
“Saturday Sun” is terrific, and the best track to start the album. The verses and choruses are equally catchy, and slightly akin to some of the better U2 tracks from this century. Things gradually revert from there. Both “Archer’s Arrows” and “Amsterdam” plod along between their inevitably catchy choruses. “Either Side Of The World” is toe-tapping yet soft, and just when you think the song’s over it goes to outer space for a minute and returning for a reprise of sorts. “Falling Dove” is a pleasant, pensive strum, but there are already too many of those on the album.
The second half is just as tentative, beginning with “Isolation”. This features Neil’s wife Sharon on a few verses, and switches abruptly to a chaotic finish. That makes a good setup for “Twice If You’re Lucky”, a highly welcome pop anthem, and the straight-ahead simplicity of “Inside Out”. “Even If” returns to the melancholy musing, while “Elephants” gets its spacy feel from guest Greg Leisz on pedal steel. (iTunes purchasers get the option of a deluxe edition with “Turn It Around” as a slightly snappier finale, along with a pile of videos.)
The general consensus on Intriguer is that repeat listens are ultimately rewarding, and that is true, but wouldn’t you rather not have to live with something until the point where you can appreciate it? Its relative brevity at 40 minutes does help with the familiarity. We were even shocked to find ourselves wishing brother Tim had been included for some counterpoint. If this is the last we’ll have under the Crowded House brand, at least it doesn’t take anything away from those first few poppy gems.

Crowded House Intriguer (2010)—3

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