Review: Dreamers Wait No Longer—An Expanded Crowded House Returns After A Decade Away

Crowded House
Dreamers Are Waiting
(EMI)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Now that Neil Finn has Fleetwood Mac’s tour out of the way, one where he sang songs he had no hand in composing or recording, it’s time to return to his longtime gig as frontman/singer/songwriter for Crowded House.

House has taken previous sabbaticals during an on again/off again career. There was that “final” 1996 concert which resulted in the deceptively named Farewell to the World, followed by a reformation in 2007 with Time on Earth. There were a handful of Finn solo albums too, but now it’s time to welcome yet another CH comeback, this one following their last studio disc 11 years ago. 

The band’s personnel has undergone some changes. Founding bassist Nick Seymour remains, with Finn’s sons Liam and Elroy now full time members and original producer Mitchell Froom officially in the lineup. While the names have changed, this has always been Neil’s baby, which means he contributes another sparkling dozen melodic, sometimes melancholy, pop/rockers with occasionally dark lyrical tones. 

There are some intriguing twists along the way. The early single “To the Island” tosses in brief Beach Boys harmonies and closes with classy George Benson-styled jazz guitar. While there isn’t anything quite as sing-along worthy as the band’s biggest hits, a track like “Love Isn’t Hard at All” is as upbeat as its title and the surprisingly driving “Whatever You Want” finds Finn getting socio-political. Elsewhere, “Playing with Fire” sounds like prime CH boasting Turtles-styled vocals, full production and horns as it fades out on ominous, dreamy chords. Frontman Finn channels his inner Paul McCartney on the closing “Deeper Down.”  

Nothing is over four minutes, yet, like the outfit’s other albums, it takes a few spins for Finn and Froom’s charming, occasionally prickly song craft and production to kick in. And even if little here sparkles as splendidly as House’s prime era, Dreamers Are Waiting is quality, thoughtful pop from the mind of a guy who knows his way around a terrific tune.

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