Though I wouldn't call myself a fan of the Australian band, every time I hear one of their songs, I wonder why I'm not. In some ways, they're about as good as a pop band can get -- the ageless, versatile voice of Neil Finn; classic pop sensibilities that would've played well in any of the past four decades and will probably play well in any of the next four decades; top-notch musicianship; and an overall essence that just screams intelligence.
Intriguer, Crowded House's second studio record since the suicide of founding drummer Paul Hester, was produced by the guy who produced the most recent Wilco record, and fans of that band will likely find Intriguer's organic melodicism-meets-melancholy appealing (and "Even If" sounds more than a little like something Wilco would do).
Original guitarist Nick Seymour Guitarist Mark Hart is no Nels Cline, but he pulls out some inventive leads throughout Intriguer.
There's nothing groundbreaking or trendy about the songs on Intriguer -- and nothing that's destined to be a classic like "Don't Dream It's Over" -- but for expertly written and performed guitar pop by old dudes from Down Under, there's probably nothing better out there right now.
Best song: Soaring opening track "Saturday Sun" and downer "Isolation."
Deja Vu: Late-era Beatles meets late-era Wilco
I'd rather listen to: The re-issued Fables of the Reconstruction, out tomorrow.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment