Sunday, November 22, 2020

Crowded House - Whatever You Want - A Decade In The Making

10 years since their last release, "Intriguer",  Crowded House are back with their new single, "Whatever You Want", a wonderfully modern representation of their recognisable sound. Famous for songs such as "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Weather With You", Crowded House's new addition to their single roster stays unique to their late-80's to 90's alternative sound that they are most famous for.

For those who don't know who they are; Crowded House is a multi-award winning alternative rock band from Melbourne, Australia, with the exception of it's Kiwi founding member, Neil Finn. Their fame came with their debut and sophomore albums, gaining a strong following throughout the rest of their career. As with any band, there are always a few breakups and hiatuses along the way. 

In 1996, after announcing their greatest hits record, Finn announced the band's disbandment. It wasn't until 10 years later that Crowded house would 'reform', albeit with some notable line-up changes. Between 2006 and 2018, two studio albums were recorded and anew drummer was instated to the band. However, in 2018, Neil Finn announced the band's indefinite hiatus after he was joined Fleetwood Mac, in place of the recently departed Lindsey Buckingham.

Now we have the key context out of the way... 

In December 2019, Neil Finn announced a new studio record for the band and a new Crowded House line up; including his two sons and the band's original producer, Mitchell Froom. Little did Neil Finn know, however, that coronavirus was about to show it's ugly face and really disrupt these plans - namely, the world tour that was planned has now been moved back to 2021 (more info on that in a bit).

Nonetheless, to keep us all excited the band have released their first single in a decade, "Whatever you Want". Sometimes I feel like I over-hype songs and how their sound is 'totally new and exciting', most of the time I feel that I am right in saying that. This time, however, with this song, I feel myself changing my own perceptions of what constitutes as "new and exciting" - primarily because Crowded House have not changed their style... at all, but yet I find myself full of excitement listening to it. Sure, this song shows the band using modernised production and, sure, the line-up is changed dramatically from its first incarnation. Be that as it may, the band sounds the same. Not in a boring way, but in more of a this-song-showcases-a-sensible-seamless-progression kind of way, almost as if the band were writing straight of the back of their 4th studio album opposed to breaking up. 

As you can see, I am plainly excited about this release. The long and short of it is, the song is both modern and recognisably 90's, a period that some would say is hastily becoming 'old'. The worst thing is, is that I can't even blame this excitement on some blindfolded nostalgia as I was only born 9 years before their 2007 reunion album and well after their main stint. Crowded House has just perfectly emulated their sound and modernised it... something a lot of bands of their time have previously really struggled to do. The only way I could possibly explain this achievement is the line-up change; despite the obvious age differences between all of the members, particularly between Neil Finn's sons and the rest of the band, they are all heavily accustomed to the Crowded House style, they have all either created it or grown up with it.  

Crowded House released this song alongside a Nina Ljeti-directed music video, starring Mac Demarco, a notable modern alt/indie titan. The video depicts Demarco not being able to remember the night before, but gradually having flashbacks of events in the evening. It's a great little video that also includes a member of the band DIIV - also a rather well known modern alt/indie band. Outside of the video premise, artists like Demarco and DIIV are bound to inspiration from artists like Crowded House simply because of their place as precursors to the style that they (Mac Demarco and DIIV) now represent. 

Recently, Crowded House have reananounced their world tour dates, after having to reschedule due to coronavirus. They were originally set to perform throughout the summer months, coinciding with festivals like Sounds of the City at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester. However, their shows have now been moved to summer of 2021. Tickets are all still available to buy online! 

Finally, my final words on this single. If the album sounds anything like this single, we should all be very excited. What I am hoping for (yes, it is a big ask) is for Crowded House to release an album of the same calibre as their debut and sophomore - if this single is anything to go by, we could be in for that very treat. As seemingly inconsequential as this album is on the world stage, it really is one of the high hopes I have for 2021, something that will really help us forget just how traumatising 2020 has been. 

- Charlie Cowburn


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