Sunday, June 13, 2021

Crowded House are looking towards a brighter future with their return album ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’

Crowded House were the soundtrack of my childhood. Whether it was the swaying ballad-tempo and dreamy lyricism of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ or the rousing chorus and melodic guitars of ‘Weather With You’, their music was always a source of comfort and joyful energy – a reminder of simpler times. With a sound characterised by lush melodies and warm harmonies, their songs come into the world innately nostalgic and almost ephemeral, like a dream that slipped away a bit too soon.

Their latest album – ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ – is the band’s third incarnation, mourning the loss of the original drummer Paul Hester and the departure of Mark Heart, while also looking into the future with the addition of frontman Neil Finn’s sons, Liam and Elroy, to the line-up. 

With a 10 year gap between this album and their previous output, ‘Dreamers’ is a product of time, reflection and Neil Finn’s reaffirmed commitment to the project, spurred on by his tour with Fleetwood Mac and the desire to seek moments of hope in the cacophony of the modern world. As such, the album carries a quietly optimistic message of reconciliation and jollity, celebrating the band’s origins and delighting in musical experimentation, making it their most exciting and original output of this millennium.


Some albums are designed to be listened to all the way through and ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ is one such album. The tracks weave effortlessly in and out of each other, gently switching up tempos and moods with a subtleness that makes this an incredibly easy, coherent and satisfying listen – like drinking down a glass of water on a balmy day. It is awash with Crowded House’s signature sounds; from the dreamy harmonies running through ‘Start of Something’, to the descending guitar chords in ‘Too Good For This World’ , while also incorporating some more experimental features, like the cyber-sounding analogue synths in ‘Sweet Tooth’ and ‘To The Island’, and a refreshingly modern indie-feel of ‘Love Isn’t Hard At All’ that is reminiscent of Peter Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folks’.


There is a distinctive warmth to the whole album, in part owing to its origins to the family ties that were instrumental in its creation. Musically, it comes through the more folky-sound tracks, like the warm brass of ‘Playing With Fire’ and the double bass/shaker combination in ‘Too Good For This World’. This is not to say that there isn’t also an underlying darkness running through the narrative, which is particularly visible in the heavy beat of the ‘To The Island’ and noir-like, cinematic atmosphere evoked by the dusky elegance of ‘Show Me The Way’. Even lyrically, the album fluctuates between moments of doubt and despair, and the hopeful defiance, exemplified by rousing assertions like “we can break the mould/ and go against the grain” on ‘Goodnight Everyone’ and the youthful vigour of ‘Love Isn’t Hard At All’.


With ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’, Crowded House have not only retained their relevance and stature but have also delivered a singularly enjoyable and memorable piece of music. This album is a very necessary injection of positivity and pleasure, leaving us – as per the title of the album – expectant dreamers in a hesitant world.



Liza Kupreeva


Image: Official Album Artwork

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