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Friday, Aug. 27, 2010

Crowded House

Intriguer (Fantasy/Concord Music Group)

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Crowded House’s second post-reunion album—an elegant, mostly laid-back affair—finds the band continuing to eschew its earlier mainstream appeal and write serious alternative-pop songs for grown-ups. In fact, Intriguer, featuring original members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour (plus Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod), boasts a subtle indie-rock aesthetic.

The 40-minute album may be short on hits; fuzzy leadoff single “Saturday Sun” is marred by distracting production effects, and only “Amsterdam” and “Twice If You’re Lucky” recall past glories. But the depth of material, from the delicate melodies of “Archer’s Arrows” to the samba rhythms of “Either Side of the World,” fulfills the promise of Intriguer’s title as Finn remains an underrated songwriter.

“Isolation,” featuring the ethereal voice of Finn’s wife, Sharon, culminates with a scorching tremolo guitar solo from his son, Liam, as Finn delivers almost-screamed vocals. It’s unexpected, and more such developments would have made Intriguer even more intriguing.

Crowded House will perform at the Pabst Theater on Sept. 7.

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