Crowded House: “Crowded House”
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date: 1986 Capitol Records
(My Rating: 3 Stars)
World Where You Live
Now We’re Getting Somewhere
Don’t Dream It’s Over
Mean To Me
Love you ‘Til The Day I Die
Something So Strong
Hole In The River
I Walk Away
That’s What I Call Love
To begin, I’d like to examine a concept that became extremely clear to me while listening to the album, “Crowded House.” I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I have a terrible habit of labeling any record that’s cover art looks remotely abstract, and was released in the mid-eighties as New Wave. I believe I do this because I really admire the New Wave genre. I can imagine my father reading this post now and asking, “What the heck is the New Wave genre?” Well dad, according to Google, New Wave music is, “A musical genre of pop rock created in the late 1970s to mid-eighties with ties to 1970s punk rock.” I guess I’d call this a basically accurate description. Of course, I might follow it up with, “Dad, think lots of synthesizers, drum machines, vocalists with British accents, and of course, asymmetrical hairstyles.” I can imagine my father’s blank stare in response. This all being stated, my explanation of the New Wave genre would be totally unnecessary when regarding the band Crowded House and their self-titled album, due to the fact that it’s simply not New Wave. You're now asking, "What?! The album cover has that surrealistic feel, and isn’t the release date 1986? What the heck could we possibly be dealing with here?" Brace yourselves people, because I’m here to tell you that mid-eighties… GASP…Pop music…sigh, also used synthesizers and abstract album art. Sneaky, isn’t it?
I initially snagged this album because it has the song, “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” on it. This popular song is, not surprisingly, one of my favorite 80’s ballads. When I hear this song I immediately want to grab the nearest 5’4” juvenile delinquent with a mullet and slow dance with him. Of course, keeping in mind that I'm 5’9” and 36 years old this would be a rather awkward looking scene that would probably end up with me taking a quick trip to jail. However, during this song I can’t help but feel like the gangling, still 5’9," teenager I was so many years ago. Yes, slow dancing was a hunched over, ugly experience for me then as well. I guess what I’m saying is a song like, “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” inspires a lot of nostalgia in this listener. Not only that but it’s sublime keyboard solo, mixed with stylistically wavy guitars coerce an audience into an expectation of a New Wave album. I mean, how many Pop bands are able to construct a lyric like, “Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup.”
Well, it's now clear to me, at least one. I think the most glaring proof of this band’s Pop status can be found in the songs, “Now We’re Getting Somewhere,” and, “Mean To Me.” Despite the fact that both of these pieces contain extremely promising examples of what Crowded House is capable of doing with instruments, this blogger couldn’t help but envision some sort of cheesy sitcom montage while listening to them. Suddenly, I was yanked from the song, “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” and the charm of my artless adolescence, only to feel like I was being force fed imagery from a show like, “Friends.” Here, people are laughing, line dancing, and probably throwing cake at one another in at least one scene, all the while having perfect hair. In this blogger’s opinion these songs are about as realistic as the sitcoms they remind me of. While vocalist Neil Finn deserves credit for attempting to convey some honest emotion during these songs I can’t help but feel like it’s all just too perfect, even the, “gritty,” parts seem planned.
I will state that the song, “Hole In The River,” was a nice surprise on this album. During this particular number the album takes a turn towards a darker, more narrative driven piece. Here, Crowded House was able to display their awesome quirk filled instrumental interludes without getting cutesy. No longer was this blogger thinking about the iconic, “Rachel,” haircut. I was thinking crazy carny music. Which, if one really considers it, is probably closely related when it comes to freaky things. The song, “Hole In The River,” proved to this listener that the band Crowded House was capable of not only using the sounds of keyboard runs and bright shiny horns for upbeat, “good,” Pop songs, but also for just a glimmer of the, “evil,” New Wave genre.
In conclusion, I would like to clarify again that the record, “Crowded House,” is a Pop album of the ‘80’s. Granted, it’s a complex one, full of interesting sounds provided by a talented group of musicians…horns especially. If you like horn sections this album may be your thing. However, despite the really dense instrumental tidbits going on here the majority of this album seems a little too, “fun,” for this blogger. I was around in 1986 and even as a kid I didn’t think life was that perfect.
“Don’t Dream It’s Over:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9gKyRmic20