Crowded House, Woodface (Capitol Records)

There's a word which is used far too often by reviewers to describe albums of melodic guitar-based pop, and that's "Beatlesque". But expect to read it often in the music mags over the next while, because there's never been an album more deserving of the term than Crowded House's new disc Woodface—not even their previous masterpieces Crowded House and Temple of Low Men.

Woodface is Crowded House's Revolver: the perfect album, with not one song below par. Beatles parallels abound: the opener, "Chocolate Cake", is their "Taxman"; "Four Seasons in One Day" is their "Yesterday"; "Italian Plastic" fulfils the compulsory one-drummer-penned-song-per-album; and there's even a surprise song hidden at the end of the disk in the manner of "Her Majesty" on Abbey Road (and it's a real screamer—literally).

But the Beatles analogy shouldn't be taken too far. I don't want to give the impression that Neil Finn and his equally-talented brother Tim are ripping off Lennon and McCartney. The sense of familiarity comes from the quality of the music on Woodface. It's that which will keep you listening to this album again and again.

Of course, anyone at all familiar with such Split Enz classics as Time and Tide will have been checking the new releases at record stores ever since it was announced that Tim was joining Crowded House. (Tim's solo work, unfortunately, has been shamefully treated by the buying public; the next time you see the Tim Finn CD on sale for $6, buy it!) For those Crowded House fans unfamiliar with Split Enz (are there any?), Woodface may seem a bit strange at first, featuring quirky sounds and musical experiments that weren't to be found on the first two albums. But don't worry—you'll quickly get used to it, and the extra creative input only improves the original winning formula. As for die-hard Finn fanns, this is as close to Nirvana as you can get.

There's no point in analysing each song in depth (fourteen of them, officially, plus the one "mystery guest"), because they're all great and you'll be hearing them soon enough if the above rave has achieved the desired effect. Perhaps all of this is preaching to the converted, but then this album will have you wanting to tell everyone how great it is, too. Truly a classic.


This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©2000 Rory Ewins