Crowded House – Intriguer (CD review)

Crowded House – Intriguer (Fantasy) – CD review –

Following the death of original drummer Paul Hester, the remaining members of Crowded House reconvened in 2007 to record their first album in 14 years.  That disc, Time On Earth, was a morose affair, yet even the most heartbreaking songs of loss were wrapped in gorgeous melodies, making it another triumph for the band.  Flash forward to current day and Intriguer. Not surprising, the album sounds like the sister of Time on Earth; which is to say, it’s another mid-tempo affair filled with great songs.

Leader Neil Finn’s earliest work with the band, over 25 years ago, was perpetually sunny and immediately grabbed you.  The songs on Intriguer are more intricate, darker, and sometimes haunting.  It will take a few listens for these tracks to set in, but then they grab you.  This is intricate pop music at its finest.  There are little touches, like the fuzz bass and mandolin on “Saturday Sun,” or the dreamy sequence in “Either Side of the World,” adding to the ear candy.  Many of these tunes start out as one thing and then turn into something altogether different.

Take “Falling Dove,” it starts as a fragile acoustic piece, then morphs into a Faces-type rocker in the middle, before returning for a quiet ending.  Or, the next song, “Isolation,” which has this guitar-freakout ending.  Another standout is “Twice If You’re Lucky” with its slinky guitar lines, it’s probably the happiest tune on the album.  With two great albums in a row, here’s hoping Crowded House sticks around for a long time.  — Tony Peters