Monday, February 10, 2014
Some of the first records I bought were Split Enz albums. Back in the very early 80s, Split Enz sounded like nothing else around. I loved a lot of what Crowded House gave us - Together Alone (recorded at Kare Kare on the North Island of NZ, where Jane Campion's The Piano was filmed) is an often thrilling album. Neil Finn's quirky, unexpected work with brother Tim and his first two solo albums, often had stirring moments. Neil's lyrics can have a surreal edge and poignant core.
Dizzy Heights, Neil's new long player, is receiving accolades from everyone (no surprises - the man can't put a foot wrong in critics' eyes). I think it's the most lacklustre, uninspired thing he's ever given us. There are no memorable I've-gotta-sing-this-right-now-to-get-through-my-drab-morning harmonies, heart-lifting guitar moments or unexpected beginnings or endings even though the music presses are saying it's a soulful, innovative thing. Critics have applauded him dabbling with electronica and using samples this time around. So what? It's about as electronic as a dead Ikea AA battery on the side of the Stuart Hwy. The samples that he has chosen are utterly predictable: Divebomber includes the sound of a diving plane; Lights of NewYork features traffic noises. God help us.
About a decade ago, Neil was working with some of Radiohead's boys when touring. Maybe they should have hung around and offered up some insights that could've taken him into rockier, edgier, more slippery terrain than this.
With Dizzy Heights, Neil has given us a flock of NZ sheep staring blankly at one another. His imagination better be home soon.
LJ, February 11 2014.