Review by: Francelino Prazeres de Azevedo Filho
Album assigned by: Nina A
I’m sorry, Neil Finn fans, but I don’t see how he could be considered one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Not from this record, at least. A power pop album with some nice variations but no strong highs or lows. Some places in the internet would suggest this is also inspired from Maori music. I call bullshit on that. The last (and title-) track has lyrics inspired from their mythology and a nice chorus singing in their language, but nothing else in the album seems any different from regular pop-rock.
The atmosphere and lyrics here are usually earnest and passionate, supported by some sort of melodrama in Neil’s voice that kinda turns me off in some tracks. There’s no song that tries to rock hard, or to be very catchy. It’s like Crowded House are content with sounding pop-rock but don’t try to push the boundaries of the genre. It would feel too harsh to call this “middle-of-the-road”, though. The best way I can explain it is that the great pop-rock I’ve listened to manages to keep the strengths of both pop and rock, while this is more like half-pop added with half-rock.
“Private Universe” is the biggest fail in that to me. It’s an attempt at an intimate love song, but the lyrics and the melody don’t really match, and the refrain is weak. “Walking on the Spot” is not very strong either, and talks about some banal domestic drama. “Can we look the milkman in the eye?” The other ballad, “Fingers of Love” is more successful. The sentimentality in the voice acts in its favour, rather than detracting from it. With its dramatic guitars and ornate words, it’s the best track here.
The second best, in my opinion, is the funky “Skin Feeling”. Other strong ones: “Pineapple Head” is a cool McCartney-ish ditty with a pulsating bass. “Catherine Wheels” is nice and folksy, it even reminds me of Neutral Milk Hotel. “Kare Kare” decided to laugh at this message, the following night she disappeared leaving no trace has a catchy refrain, “soon / in a valley lit by the moon”. “In My Command” has Neil doing his best impression of Lennon circa 1964.
As you can see, there are plenty of good songs here, and that is what makes a good power pop album. Together Alone is a good album, there’s no doubting it! The problem, I guess, is that I’m too blasé to enjoy it. There are just too many similar albums that just make me feel with much more intensity!