Crowded House - Time On Earth
The return of Crowded House was quite unexpected to many of us, I'm sure. It seemed frontman Neil Finn's solo career was reaching new heights, and despite past successes a revival of the great pop machine was an afterthought if anything. However, now that it's happened it only feels logical. Pop music today has hit a stagnant dry spell, lacking some of the innovation and inspiration of the 80's and 90's. It's good to hear an experienced group in that scene. A question most fans have been asking, a true worry for some, would be "Are they still the Crowded House I used to love?" A simple answer would be yes.
But we don't usually deal with simple answers. What's gained and lost? Well, for one, their core sound has been quietly modernized but never does it sound as if they've sold out completely to today's hurried and dry pop rock. The Finn's creative spirits make it seem as if they'd never gave up the ghost a decade ago. Opener "Nobody Wants To" is a cut of the primest example; the quiet hope in the depressive lyrics, moody melodies and a clear-cut production courtesy of Steve Lillywhite that really captures the band at their best. Time on Earth is an album that touches on some of the classic subjects of the band, from social angst and emotional stresses, stuff so many of us have and continue to relate to. Their sense of songwriting (Say That Again, A Sigh, English Trees and the beautiful "You Are The Only One To Make Me Cry") is as sharp and precise as ever, rare qualities indeed in the realm of pop music. Crowded House continue to be what they've always been, and they sound as good overall as they ever have.
If you ask me, the biggest key for a successful pop band is experience. Knowing what works and what doesn't, as the true nature of pop dictates the upmost attention to hooks, snappy melodies and lyrics that hit hard and soft all at once. Neil's voice goes a long way in assisting the 14 tracks on Time on Earth towards that goal, but it's a true band effort of the highest order. It's amazing that they're still sounding so relevant and so inspiring today, and all the chart success and critical acclaim this album has recieved is all justified in spades. This might just be THE pop release of the year, and if you weren't a fan before you just might be after some quality time with Time on Earth.
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