Friday, July 23, 2010

Crowded House - Intriguer (2010)

It wasn't until I was halfway through the fourth listen of Crowded House's latest CD Intriguer that I reconsidered my original opinion that I didn't like it as much as 2007's Time On Earth. Every review I've seen of it has mentioned that it takes repeated listens to begin to appreciate it's merits, so it seems that a lot of listeners are having a similar experience.

Intriguer is one of the classic Crowded House albums, and possibly the very best one. The arrangements are both stripped-down and lush all at the same time. I'm not sure how they did that, but it is proof that it can be done. There are some beautiful keyboard arrangements, especially in "Archer's Arrows" and "Either Side of the World," the latter being impossible to describe and must be heard to be believed - a really stunning track. Keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart deserves some credit for laying down his tracks with generous amounts of finesse. A few songs feature some quite Beatlesque twists and turns and a few distorted, in-your-face guitar solos. There are lots of surprises, which is probably why this CD takes so long to process.

Clocking in at only 40 minutes, Intriguer is short but seems to be exactly long enough. It's not perfect, as there are a few engineering imperfections that bother me slightly. There are some distorted sound effects at the beginning of the opening track "Saturday Sun" that, along with the over-modulated bass track, give the illusion that the drums are distorted. The drums in "Even If," a beautiful, sparsely-arranged track, are played softly but cranked up loud in the mix, making them seem too harsh. These few sonic distractions aside, this is a very strong release from Crowded House and is highly recommended.


Dave said...

Yep - I agree that it's a 'grower,' as most things that stick with you tend to be. Apparently the samba beat came late to "Either Side of the World," and you're right about the subtlety of the keyboards there. The standout tracks to me are Amsterdam and Twice If You're Lucky, and I really like Archer's Arrows. It was surprising to hear Sharon (Neil's wife) so prominent with the backgroud vocals (espicially on Isolation). And with only 10 tracks, it's nice to see a band self-edit. I think many releases these days are just plainly too long, thanks to CDs being able to handle more content.

I really like this quote from Neil about making this album: "It’s so important to have a good time making music." After the heavy tone on Time On Earth, there does seem to be a better mood here.

Nice blog Todd - I look forward to reading more reviews from you!

Todd Evans said...

Thanks David!

I meant to write something about Sharon Finn's vocals on "Isolation" sounding kind of Twin-Peaks-soundtrack-like, but I forgot to include it.

I really like the 10-track, 40 minute model. I wish more artists would do that. It's weird that's a deviation now, rather than the norm like it used to be.

Dave said...

I remember we used to make fun of Van Halen II, and not just for the photographs on the back/inside. It clocked in at something like 28 minutes. Now, I sort of commend them for not adding a bunch of filler.

David said...

Still don't like the cover though. At all.

The rest of the CD looks great and is interesting, but not so much the front cover.

Todd Evans said...

I don't like the CD cover either, but I don't like ANY of the Crowded House covers.