Neil Finn has had a purple patch lately. Solo albums, collaborative records, performances with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, and the not inconsiderable role of guitarist/vocalist in Fleetwood Mac have kept him well occupied. His time touring with Fleetwood Mac led him – in a roundabout way – to reform Crowded House, and their new album, ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ is the product of that reformation.
‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ is an interesting proposition, featuring as it does a new band line-up including sons Liam and Elroy Finn, as well the band’s famed original producer Mitchell Froom. This new line-up has re-energised the band’s sound, and on some tracks, like the bouncy Sweet Tooth, they are clearly having a good time.
Finn’s knack for a good tune is naturally front and centre. To The Island features one of his trademark sing-along melodies, to the point where you might think the song has been part of the Crowded House canon for years. Deeper Down ends the album on a McCartney-esque slinky lounge jazz note.
The lyrics are allusory, frequently funny, and tackle subjects as diverse as contemporary paranoia, childhood recollections about a bag of chips at school, while the first single Whatever You Want considers our current age of misinformation.
This is a subtle album – beautifully produced, performed perfectly, and far from an exercise in nostalgia. On the first few listens it seems underwhelming, maybe a little too quiet, a bit too slick. But then the melodies wriggle their way in, and soon you’re humming the songs like they’ve always been there.