Seems like it’s been a busy few months in music. Groups and bands we’d all thought had played together for the last time have reunited; while the Spice Girls grab the headlines, news that The Police, The Verve and Rage Against the Machine have reunited has brought equal excitement to their fans. In contrast I think Crowded House‘s reunion has been more low-key, reflecting the group’s first album without Paul Hester.
I wasn’t sure if Crowded House could be the same without Paul Hester. It wasn’t just his musical contribution that was important to the group, but his very presence and energy as well – it helped to make the band work live. But Time on Earth doesn’t pretend to be the same kind of album; it’s a more mature Crowded House and I think it works very well. It’s melancholic but beautiful, and there’s a hopefulness beneath it that I’ve really enjoyed as well.
Neil Finn’s brilliance as a songwriter always amazes me, but it’s interesting the quality time has given to his voice. His vocals have a gravelly weight and you can feel the emotion from song to song. As far as the songs go, I think “Don’t Stop Now” is the perfect first release, but “Pour Le Monde” is the highlight. Hauntingly beautiful. “He imagines the world/as the angel ascending/like the ghost of a man/who is tied up to the chair/and he tries to believe/that his life has a meaning”. Sigh. Welcome back, Neil.
I’ve been reading some reviews and I agree, it’s possibly the kind of album that takes a couple of listens to truly be rewarded, but I know fans won’t be disappointed. It’s a fitting tribute to Paul Hester and brings a sense of familiarity, as well as a new direction. Highly recommended for anyone interested, and it’s definitely not leaving my iPod.