Crowded House, Intriguer (Fantasy, 2010)

When a band attempts a comeback, it's often the second album that determines the success of the attempt. Such is the case with Crowded House, a fine band from the late eighties and early nineties that only recently re-emerged from a long hiatus. Their 2007 album Time on Earth was their first in thirteen years. Dedicated to the memory of the band's original drummer Paul Hester, Time on Earth was an album the band needed to make for personal reasons, even if the subject matter was often very weighty and serious. Their new album Intriguer, though, finds the band having fun again.

While guitarist Neil Finn dominates the singing and songwriting as usual, Intriguer really feels like a tight group effort. Bassist Nick Seymour, multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart, and drummer Gary Sherrod give solid performances throughout. Sherrod, who joined the group halfway through the recording of Time on Earth, deserves particular credit for fitting in so well. The band mix and match tempos nicely, and a couple of songs feature some impressively dramatic shifts in tempo and mood.

Most of the highlights on Intriguer occur early on the album. The upbeat "Saturday Sun," which opens the album, is an ideal single. "Amsterdam" and "Falling Dove," also from the first half of the CD, are strong tracks as well. "Isolation" is noteworthy partly because Finn shares the lead vocals with his wife Sharon, but also because it starts as a quiet, waltzy number and ends in a raucous, chaotic fashion.

Otherwise, Intriguer is par for the course. Long time fans of Neil Finn's work will know what to expect from the songwriting, and while they may not be overwhelmed relative to his previous work they won't be disappointed, either. Crowded House sound like a solid unit again, and that bodes well for the band's future.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

a live performance of "Saturday Sun"

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