[Rating: 3 stars]
In 2007, Crowded House switched out of hiatus mode and released Time on Earth, an album derived mostly from what was meant to be frontman Neil Finn’s solo album. Three years later, the band finds itself continuing the process of getting back on track, this time with a full-on Crowded House album. The result is a pop sound that’s optimistic, yet shadowed by something a bit darker– an etherized melancholy. It’s an album laden with the happy images of love and romanticized references to European locales, but it’s tinged with mild tones of disenchantment.
The band’s long-running Beatles influence flickers in and out of songs like “Amsterdam,” whether in the guitar work or scattered Sgt. Pepper-style imagery, creating a world in slow motion. Much of the album is floating and mid-tempo, like “Falling Dove,” which goes through multiple phases, starting with soft, moody singing; “I make a rendezvous, Moscow station. Midnight passenger, café is closed/ In St. Petersburg the door slides open and I’m a dead man ’til I see her walk through.”
All through, the electronic sounds swell and expand, giving Intriguer an other -worldly vibe. Opener “Saturday Sun” juxtaposes little blips and buzzes with simple, almost mundane lyrics at first: “It’s a Saturday sun, and the game is still on, and the waiting is done.” The lyrical content quickly catches up to match the sounds, and by the chorus, the band is soaring.
For the all the bang of “Saturday Sun,” “Elephants,” with its slow-paced piano, closes out Intriguer, drowsily, though perhaps fittingly so. “Sweet dreams, make waves, find bliss.”