Crowded House – Time On Earth (2007)

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Sometimes you just can’t hear things right. Or maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. Whatever the case, that happened here. Time On Earth eluded me for months after its release.

As expected, given my love for Neil Finn’s songwriting, a few songs grabbed me quickly, and that’s exactly the problem with this album by Crowded House. Some of these songs were so good that they eclipsed all the others. In their brilliant light the album as a whole slipped away from me. I fell into a bad rut. I heard it in chunks — “this” little group of songs was great, “that” little group of songs was good, and others, well, I just didn’t care for. The whole didn’t jell, and this was unusual for me. I usually love an album or I don’t. Something was wrong here, and I began to think it wasn’t the music.

I found myself presented with a few opportunities where I couldn’t focus on the music like I normally do. When I opted to listen to a playlist I’d created that mixed things up just a tiny bit by throwing in two b-sides to mirror the tracklisting of the vinyl version of the album, I realized that all of the songs were powerful and beautiful. That little change created a new terrain out of the familiar, somehow, and I could hear the album anew. The clouds parted, as they say, the light shone down from above, and the haze cleared, illuminating what is a powerful collection of songs dealing with love, death, and the state of the world.

We can argue if we want about whether they’re truly Crowded House songs or “just” more Neil Finn songs. That’s what some ended up doing. But in the end, does it matter? I’ll take more of either.

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