OK, whilst I'm in poptastic mode, I'll slip this one in.
I followed Crowded House from the off; loved their Beatlesque melancholy, laughed along at their vain attempts to mimic the Monkees. Neil Finn seemed like an articulate troubadour and the band were fine live.
'Woodface' was excellent if a little happy clappy for me.
Then came this moody morsel, my favourite Crowded House album by a country mile. The first 3 albums had been overseen by Mitchell Froom in the States but for this recording the band retreated to a friend's house in Karekare Beach ("the edge of the world, where all the monsters are") in New Zealand and brought in Youth, the ambassador of ambient beats, for production duties. Brother Tim had become a disruptive element and had been turfed out to be replaced by multi instrumentalist Mark Hart whose use particularly of pedal steel added great washes of sound. The band seemed really together and in a happy place, although the sound of the album does seem steeped in a melancholy that was surely informed by the awesome environment they found themselves in. Heartbreaking to see drummer Paul Hester clowning it up; he seemed such a happy soul, 'Together Alone' an apt signifier of that soul's future retreat into darkness.
For me the title track is the band's finest moment and features a New Zealand Maori choir and log drummers and was co-written by Ngapo 'Bub' Wehi of the Te Waka Huia Cultural Group Choir, who also provide backing vocals on "In My Command" and "Catherine Wheels".
Neil Finn recognized the importance that the recording process had on the band's unity as a time that would be "etched on to our souls". Looking at the two documentary videos at the bottom of the page you can't help but think that all albums should be made this way...