I once had it put to me that I had to moderate my tastes in order to protect my status as a sometime reviewer of music. Admittedly, this scurrilous and unfounded allegation was put to me by a Kula Shaker fan, so we shouldn’t take it to seriously, but the very idea baffled me. I like what I like, whether it’s by Robert Wyatt or Ronan Keating*. It has been some time since Crowded House were considered what we might laughably term ‘cool’ and I’m not sure the work of the brothers Finn, either solo or in tandem, ever achieved that status. Thankfully, that doesn’t actually count for anything and ‘Everyone Is Here’ is one of the most perfectly crafted albums of the decade.
As we all know (because Wee Dermot told us all last week) Paul McCartney pretty much invented music, but Neil and Tim Finn are true masters of harmony and that other often neglected art: backing vocals. I’ve mentioned previously how Nick Hornby so perfectly described Teenage Fanclub as the musical equivalent of comfort food in his delightful tome, ‘31 Songs’, and I would put this album into a similar bracket.
A raucous record, this is not. Occasionally, their upbeat pop sensibilities break through such as on ‘Part Of Me, Part Of You’ and ‘Anything Can Happen’ but it’s the more reflective songs, which seem all about building layers of sound in order to create a mood, rather than going for an immediate pop fix, that really take this album towards greatness. ‘Luckiest Man Alive’ chugs along but the various guitar sounds drifting in and out save it from simply being a good MOR tune, while album opener ‘Won’t Give In’ is a perfect downbeat singer-songwriter number, straight out of the drawer marked ‘classic Crowded House album tracks that not many people know because they don’t mention the weather’.
This album made a few ripples on its release but never really seemed to grab the attention of anyone outside of fans of their old band. It’s a great shame as there’s much to love on ‘Everyone Is Here’ and all twelve songs truly sound like they belong together. I couldn’t imagine this album not being on the shelf now, even though I don’t reach for it too often. Whenever I need it, it’s always there and it does its job just as well every time.
*It’s never by Ronan Keating.