After breaking up Split Enz, Neil Finn retained drummer Paul Hester and recruited bassist Nick Seymour, creating Crowded House. Producer Mitchell Froom is just about an unofficial fourth member here, contributing keyboards as well as his production style which often emphasizes organic instruments. Crowded House scored their biggest hit in America with their debut, reaching number 2 on the US singles charts, but despite the presence of the timeless ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, it’s the least interesting of their initial run of albums.
Crowded House is a little generic in places, and the songs are less nuanced and interesting then Finn’s later work. The horn sections in ‘Mean to Me’ and ‘That’s What I Call Love’ haven’t aged well, while ‘Hole in the River’ would benefit from a more organic arrangement, although it’s haunting even with a synthesizer dominated arrangement. The best song is the best known; ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ utilises a Maori strum on Finn’s guitar, and Froom’s organ solo. ‘World Where You Live’ is an excellent hooky pop song, and there are also enjoyable pop songs like ‘Can’t Carry On’ and ‘Now We’re Getting Somewhere’.
Crowded House is a good first up album, but it’s a shame that it’s defined the band in America, as they became more interesting as they developed.