2 July 2013

2nd July - Crowded House's Woodface

Artist – Album: Crowded House – Woodface

Released: 2nd July 1991

Sounds Like: You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Finns

Long before the Flight of the Conchords wooed the world with their comedy folk routine, the brothers Finn were New Zealand’s premier songwriting duo. The antipodean siblings first enjoyed success together during their 80’s Split Enz heyday, but typical rivalries eventually put paid to that new wave group and they went their separate ways – Tim to continue as a solo artist and Neil to co-found Crowded House. Thankfully they briefly reunited around at the start of the nineties, looking to produce something collaboratively as the Finn Brothers but which eventually became the bulk of Woodface.

The result was pure pop of the finest vintage. Admittedly, not all of it is excellent – a lot of people blame lead single ‘Chocolate Cake’s spectacular failure to chart highly in the U.S. on its comic anti-consumerism message but really it’s just a bit of throwaway rubbish, whilst the contributions from the third songwriter in the band, drummer Paul Heston with ‘Italian Plastic’ and hidden track ‘I’m Still Here’, fall desperately short of the mark. More often than not though, the songs within are among the best in either of the brothers extensive back-catalogue. ‘Weather with You’ has a great sing-along chorus and a spine-tingling lead guitar riff, ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ is sombre and poetic, whilst ‘She Goes On’, ‘As Sure As I Am’ and ‘All I Ask’ are effortless love songs. I’m split on whether ‘Fall At Your Feet’ or ‘Whispers and Moans’ is the best song here, but both contain stunning harmonies, effecting lyrics and brilliantly realised pop melodies.  

This album is one of those that I’ve always had in my life – along with Kirsty MacColl, The Pretenders and John Martyn, Crowded House always seemed to be there to soundtrack long drives to the sea for our family holidays or sitting around the table every Sunday eating Mum’s trademark roast beef/rubber. So it’s hard for me to detach sentiment from it and to not exaggerate how good it is. I think giving it a seven out of ten is a fair reflection of its quality, but my heart is screaming out to me that it’s a lot better than even that.  

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1. Chocolate Cake – 4:02
2. It's Only Natural – 3:32
3. Fall at Your Feet – 3:18
4. Tall Trees – 2:19
5. Weather with You – 3:44
6. Whispers and Moans – 3:39
7. Four Seasons in One Day – 2:50
8. There Goes God – 3:50
9. Fame Is – 2:23
10. All I Ask – 3:55
11. As Sure as I Am - 2:53
12. Italian Plastic – 3:39
13. She Goes On – 3:15
14. How Will You Go – 4:14

Listen to ‘Whispers and Moans’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZP9LbwEP7U

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