It’s been 14 long years since we’ve heard new, lingering musings from Aussie favorites Crowded House. After they released Together Alone in 1993 and then split up in 1996, fans around the globe were petrified that the “Don’t Dream It’s Over” singers would never be heard from again.
Fans can rest easy, however, because Crowded House has reclaimed its territory with the brand spankin’ new album Time On Earth, a composite of instrumentally somber, lyrically fruitful and world-halting serenades.
It’s good, yes, though perhaps not as accessible to everyone, given the truly persistent slowness. Patience and a soothing of nerves are fully required for this puppy. Singer-songwriter Neil Finn, who did well as a solo artist in the years following the band’s dissolution, hasn’t lost his knack for writing thoughtful melodies.
Trying to assess the standout tracks, or pinpoint the most poignant lyrics, is no easy feat. There’s the uber-liberating (at least by this album’s standards) “Say That Again,” which asserts: “You’ve got to fight the plan/you’ve got to bend the rules/you got to be your own man/you got to make your own rules.”
Then there’s the presumably anti-war melody “Pour Le Monde,” with the lyrics, “And he wants to believe/that his life has a meaning/ With his hand on his heart/ Pour le monde, pas pour la guerre,” which in French means “for the world, not for the war.”
It’s worth noting “Silent House” is co-written by the Dixie Chicks, of all people, and they released their own version of the song on 2006’s Taking The Long Way. But they have different meanings: Crowded House’s rendition deals with the death of drummer Paul Hester, a tragic event that inspired the album. It’s a particularly gloomy piece, even for a subdued record like this, but it’s not one of the better flowing numbers. “English Trees,” sadly, echoes the drowsy ambience of that track.
But fear not, Time On Earth churns out more effective goodies toward the end--especially with the love-confessing “You Are The One To Make Me Cry,” which Finn sings with a crackle in his voice, just veering to the point of perpetual weeping.
Crowded House’s latest effort is worth the 14-year wait, predominately for the band’s fan base whose enthusiasm has barely waned throughout the prolonged hiatus. Time On Earth doesn’t have the addictive quality that many great records have, but it has all the components to be as satisfying as a deep, lucid summer nap. Which is never a bad thing.