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.