This review was first
published on CLUAS in 2000
Other albums reviewed in 2000
A review of the album 'Afterglow'
Hmmm. We've had a few musical trends in the last 15 or so years. The fabulous Stock Aitken Waterman years, there was Kurt Cobain and now there's the curse of electronica. Sorry, was I thinking aloud? Anyway, through it all Crowded House curiously remained pretty much oblivious to passing trends and still managed to gain enough popularity to draw 250,000 souls to their final concert at the Sydney Opera House. Explaining them? It's not always straightforward.
'Afterglow', a collection of out-takes, rarities and concert favourites collected between 1985 and 1996, is a good starting point. There's an indication of the path the trio travelled in their time, and musically the same quotes can be dragged out: infectious melody, solid song structure, heartfelt lyrics throughout, everything getting darker as the years passed.
The difference that makes this album an individual chapter is Neil Finn taking sole writing credit for all but three tracks. Lyrically, 'Afterglow' is much more intimate than any of the band's previous releases. 'I Love You Dawn', for example, is written personally to Finn's wife, and even better is the tribute to Lester, the family dog - "eat my plants / steal my things / head of security".
As to be expected, it will be those already converted that will get most from this album. It's worth noting though that the weakest points - whilst still good - are the well-known 'Left Hand' and an acoustic version of 'Private Universe'. In any case, only the hardest souls could walk away from this album without the hint of a smile of their face - not to mention tunes impossible to dislodge from your memory for days on end.