Released: August 1, 1986
Peak: 12 US, 99 UK, 8 CN, 11 AU
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: adult alternative rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
* See notes.
Total Running Time: 38:40
3.966 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)
Quotable: “This…album…proved you could actually have a pop hit…without conforming it to the lifeless synth-pop formula of the day” – George Starostin
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“After gradually assuming a front-and-center role in brother Tim's band Split Enz, native New Zealander and transplanted Australian Neil Finn moved firmly into a leadership position with Crowded House.” RW Neil’s contributions to Split Enz gave them their “first international hits (the most notable of which was ‘I Got You’). Finn continued this tradition of writing and performing harmony-rich gems when he formed Crowded House.” CD “Split Enz needed to end, particularly since founding member Tim Finn found his little brother Neil's growth spurt uncomfortable, but also because Neil was no longer writing tunes that made sense within the context of a band that ran the gamut from art rock to eccentric new wave. Neil Finn was now writing songs that were undeniably totems of popcraft, but infused with the spirit and introspection of a singer/songwriter. This formula would later become quite popular…but this sensibility was relatively unheard of in the mid-'80s.” STE
“Those starved for hooks minus the usual sentimentality were finally sated…Neil…came all the way to Los Angeles from Australia, bringing with him some of the finest melodies and knowing lyrics to come down the pop-music pike in years. With immaculate production and keyboard additions by Mitchell Froom, (who found his fame with this band), Crowded House proved to be a stellar debut.” CD “Neil Finn retained Paul Hester from Enz, added Nick Seymour for the trio, and recorded one abandoned attempt at an album before joining with Mitchell Froom for the band's eponymous debut. At the time, Froom's clean production seemed refreshing, almost rootsy, compared to the synth-pop dominating the mainstream and college scenes at the time, but in retrospect it seems a little overreaching and fussy.” STE “Along with the Bangles' Different Light, this…album…proved you could actually have a pop hit in Pop Music's Worst Year without conforming it to the lifeless synth-pop formula of the day.” GS “The selection of instruments, the little melodic hooks, and Neil's own powerful, yet intentionally vulnerable vocals work well - it's hardly an unprecedented combination, but it's certainly a good one.” GS
“Slightly more mainstream than his new-wavy Split Enz work, the record nonetheless evinced signs of darkness…Often gorgeous, Crowded House proved to be the group's biggest release in America.” RW “There's not even a single trace of witty post-modernism or an overall sarcastic/self-ironic approach to the material: obviously, one of the reasons Neil Finn became separate from his former band Split Enz was that he wanted to give more room to his newly-developing, seriously romantic style, one which would really try to capture the listener's true emotions, not block them out. Some say that what Finn does on here is join ‘professional pop craft’ with’ confessional’ singer-songwriter values, and this could actually be rephrased by stating that what he really does is merely put the feeling back into pop music.” GS
“Mean to Me starts the album with vigorous acoustic strumming and a melody that…remind you of some Seventies' singer-songwriting, but then picks up steam to become a pompous, overweight, lumpy rocker burdened with horns and mock-psychedelic keyboard splurges. Don't let the transformation and the basic basic oh so basic four-four rhythm detract you from the song's hooks, though.” GS
“World Where You Live is basically 'Mean To Me' without the optimistic bravado - but it still boasts a classic chorus, and I could easily see a band like XTC doing a song like that, albeit saddled with Andy Partridge's nerdy intonations.” GS
“Now We're Getting Somewhere is one of the best highlights, a bouncy folksy shuffle that's probably tremendously easy to play, yet packs a lot of naive, slightly childish emotion, as well as patented Beatlesque chord changes played on the electric guitar and a grumbly little accordeon melody to give it a goofy pseudo-French flavour.” GS
“The majestic ballad Don't Dream It's Over, [which] became an international hit.” STE is “beautiful yet ambiguous.” CD “True to its name, it's dreamy…as well as extremely optimistic and comforting, a perfect song for your average depressed guy to embark upon. The chorus is a great treat…a little cheesy, I guess you could call it, but at least it's not a power ballad by definition, much as it has the ‘lighters up syndrome’ etched into it.” GS
“Love You 'Til The Day I Die is a conscious attempt to play it a little 'rougher' around the edges (no no no, it ain't hard rock at all), and is pretty decent, especially when the menacing ascending melody in the chorus comes around.” GS
“The breezy” and “effervescent” Something So Strong STE is “a good hit single.” GS The rest of the album is chalked up as too samey, as far as reviewer George Starostin is concerned, to review the individual songs. In the tone of the reviews mentioned here, it seems fair to say that reviewers thought of this album as ““good, well-constructed pop,” STE but nothing that would change the world. It seems like a disguised compliment to read lines like “they're pop-rockers rather than pop-ballads, and have very little chance of becoming seriously irritating.” GS
When all is said and done, though, this is an album of strong lyrics and strong melodies. Criticisms aside, this album stood out from its pack at the time, and for that reason deserves to be remembered as the landmark it truly was for merging songwriting with songs that avoid sentimentality in favor of witticism.
Notes: “I Walk Away” was originally on Split Enz’ See Ya ‘Round. “Can’t Carry On” was a bonus track available on the CD release and not the cassette version.
Resources and Related Links:
First posted 3/3/2008; last updated 5/15/2021.