Album Review: Crowded House – ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’

Dreamers Are Waiting, the seventh studio album from Aussie rock beloved’s Crowded House, comes with all the songwriting waxing lyrical and charming atmosphere of their 1986 mega-single Don’t Dream It’s Over. Nieve O’Donnell explores how the record became a family affair and the band navigated a sensational post-pandemic comeback.

Formed in Melbourne in 1985, Crowded House are best known for their nostalgic and charming 1986 single Don’t Dream It’s Over. Known for instant melodic appeal, the track is distinctly different from the music that reveals itself in the 2021 release of Dreamers Are Waiting. After multiple changes over the years, it’s the band’s first album in over a decade but is, however, just as rewarding.

Dreamers Are Waiting is a twelve-track record in which each song contains a different, subtle and detailed tonality. Starting with Bad Times Good, the track smoothly begins with a three-line chorus before moving to Playing With Fire. A nod to coronavirus-induced lockdown (“My wife is wild in quarantine”) leads to notes about generational differences, stating that “The next generation’s talking / We’re behind the wheel” and “We’ll make it in time / Be equal to the fight / Be someone saving lives.” The album closes with Deeper Down which reminds us that the ocean is much bigger than ourselves as individuals. Repeating “let’s go deeper down now,” the song finishes the album with the unifying idea that “when you think it’s getting rough / On the surface high above / I’m always reaching out for love.”

‘Despite the different set-up from 1986’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House’s overarching charm is still very much present.’

The band’s lineup is bound to have affected the sound of their new album following the tragic passing of drummer Paul Hester in 2005. Hester’s percussive influence was heavily present in three of Crowded House’s albums; their last release with Hester was the album Together Alone (1996). Subsequently, Crowded House released Time on Earth (2007) and Intriguer (2010) which lack the pop hooks of the band’s earlier releases with Hester. In a recent interview with Neil Finn at The Guardian, the New Zealander stated that “Paul is a very constant presence in my life – I think about him all the time,” and that “a lot of the good memories and good associations with Paul resonate easily as much as the sadness of losing him.” Hester’s influence is still active in the band, having ignited a love of drums for Elroy in teaching the youngest brother to play.

Dreamers in Waiting has thus been affected by the now greater influence of the Finn family. The album became a family affair as the band were joined by founding member, Neil Finn’s, two sons, Elroy and Liam in 2019. Neil’s wife, Sharon Finn, joins backing vocals on Love Isn’t Hard At All which was co-written by Elroy and Neil. Despite acting as a family unit, each member has gained independent accolades. Liam is a multi-instrumentalist in his own right and both brothers have songwriting credits on the new album. Nevertheless, despite being a very different set up to that which created Don’t Dream It’s Over in 1986, the overarching charm of Crowded House is still very much present.

Dreamers Are Waiting could, therefore, be a reference to Don’t Dream It’s Over, potentially presenting itself as a testament to the intergenerational continuity of the band. Despite loss and change over the years, Crowded House are in some ways Too Good For This World. To The Island, the third track on the album, lulls “the world is beyond us (shit just got real) / It’s too enormous (fell under the wheel) / But the island is just right / It’s the perfect size,” dissecting hope against the backdrop of a tumultuous world.

Written by: Nieve O’Donnell

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Featured and in-article image courtesy of Crowded House via Facebook.