Crowded House’s final studio album before their initial breakup was recorded in a lonely beach studio in the north of New Zealand. The band chose to use another producer rather than Froom to explore new sounds, and Youth (better known for his work in dance music) bought more spontaneity to the recording process with techniques such as asking the guitarists to play in a stone circle 200 metres away from the studio, or making the group run around naked before recording to lose their inhibitions. Previous Crowded House albums could be accused of being too mainstream and mannered; Together Alone tears down such boundaries and captures them more raw and emotional than ever before.
With the addition of second guitarist Mark Hart, rockers such as ‘Black and White Boy’ and ‘Locked Out’ are far more intense than their counterparts on previous albums, while ‘Private Universe’ and ‘Nails in My Feet’ are their most beautiful songs. The Polynesian percussion in ‘Private Universe’ and the Maori choir in the title track give the album a distinct Pacific flavour. Many fans, along with Neil Finn himself, would nominate the surreal ‘Private Universe’ as their favourite Crowded House recording. Other particularly poignant tracks include the single ‘Distant Sun’ (“I don’t pretend to know what you want/But I offer love.”), ‘Nails in My Feet’ and the gentle ‘Fingers of Love’. The group composed ‘Kare Kare’ sets the scene with an evocative description and musical representation of the landscape, while the epic ‘Catherine Wheels’ (with a Tim co-write and backing vocal) is another moody piece at a much slower tempo.
Together Alone is easily the most stunning project that Neil Finn has been involved in.