Oddball choices and satisfying hits: Crowded House are as magical as ever on Gravity Stairs

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Oddball choices and satisfying hits: Crowded House are as magical as ever on Gravity Stairs

Crowded House
words by bryget chrisfield

“I began to sense my own weight/ Walking up the gravity stairs…” – at the top of opener Magic Piano, Neil Finn references “an unnaturally heavy stone staircase” near where he vacays while plodding piano cleverly echoes his toil.

Keys flutter in and out – at first illustrating “shadows on the stairs”– then Elroy Finn’s deft, cymbal-heavy drumming pulls focus to close. Given this is a family band, All That I Can Ever Own’s lyrics are extra adorbs: “I hold this child in my arms/ Heaven knows, I’m hopeful…”

Crowded House’s current line-up comprises bassist Nick Seymour, keyboardist Mitchell Froom and three Finns: Neil plus his singing, multi-instrumentalist sons Elroy (mainly drums) and Liam (mainly guitar). 

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Satisfying sprinklings of absurd humour abound throughout Gravity Stairs – see: I Can’t Keep Up With You (“Forever be the lady in waiting…”) and Thirsty (“How come some people never get thirsty?” – sung in winking falsetto). During closer Night Song, a swinging waltz, politeness goes a long way: “May I have the pleasure of your good company?”

Elsewhere, Oh Hi sounds like a hypercolour smiley-face T-shirt, flamenco guitar with mucho tremolo adds European-beach-holiday romance to Some Greater Plan (For Claire) and Black Water, White Circle’s opening instrumentation evokes a pantomime villain sneaking about. Damon Albarn’s solo material springs to mind here. OMG! Can Finn please do a Gorillaz feature stat? 

Finn DNA carries a considerable weight of expectation: songwriting genius that embraces oddball choices, both musical and lyrical. And triple-Finn harmonies are better than The Beach Boys. There, we said it!

As ever, Crowded House’s unconventional melodies skew towards aching melancholy on their moreish latest set.