With the heavy lifting of the Crowded House reunion out of the way, Neil Finn is able to settle into comfortable craft on Intriguer, the band’s sixth album. Intriguer isn’t as self-consciously weighty as Time on Earth -- Finn is not tackling mortality in the wake of the death of his longtime friend and bandmate Paul Hester -- but it’s also not as hazy as Finn’s pair of solo LPs. In tone and timbre, it’s closest to the second Finn Brothers album, the ruminative Everyone Is Here, but it lacks the reflective undertow of that 2004 album; it may be subdued, but it’s not reveling in its melancholy, it’s riding a gentle wave, swaying from song to song.
Crowded House’s 2007 reunion CD failed to reestablish their superstar status — a relief, one suspects, to Neil Finn, who never seemed cut out for the big time. But the House head honcho proved he was still a classy, clever tunesmith, and does so again here on Intriguer. ”Twice if You’re Lucky” is a hummable peach, while ”Isolation” builds from spare lament to riff-fueled freak-out.
Today’s young rock stars can only hope their careers last as long and turn out as idyllic as Neil Finn’s has. For more than 30 years, Finn has been turning out charming, often brilliant thinking-person’s pop. His two bands, Split Enz and Crowded House, have been successful enough to keep money in the bank, but not huge enough to invite destructive excess.
Repeated listens reveal this to be one of their best albums. Tom Hocknell 2010 Intriguer is Crowded House’s second album since the suicide of drummer and co-founder Paul Hester in 2005 (and their sixth overall), and follows 2007’s well-received comeback LP Time On Earth. Prior to that record’s release, 13 years had passed since the band’s fourth studio set, 1993’s Together Alone.
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.