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Crowded House Reaches New Heights with "Gravity Stairs":

Updated: Jun 11

A Captivating Journey of Poignant Lyrics and Fresh Melodies

With their eighth studio album "Gravity Stairs," legendary band Crowded House embarks on an impressive new chapter, delivering poignant lyrics and captivating melodies that push their signature sound in fresh directions. Produced by the group with Steven Schram, the album showcases frontman Neil Finn as an ever-evolving artist who continues to challenge himself creatively, prioritizing collaboration with family and friends.

Musically, "Gravity Stairs" strikes a balance between Crowded House's dreamy atmospherics and novel experimentation. From the lush, layered production with swirling psychedelic flourishes on sprawling opener "Magic Piano" to jangly pop anthems with soaring choruses like "Teenage Summer" and "Oh Hi," the band expands their sonic palette while retaining their core strengths. Thematically, Finn grapples with weighty questions of mortality, the passage of time, and life's myriad struggles - the metaphorical "gravity stairs" of the album's title.

The album reunites Finn with sons Liam and Elroy, now official band members alongside returning producer Mitchell Froom. Their influence can be felt in the album's ambitious arrangements and exploratory spirit. Classic influences from The Beatles to The Smiths to Wilco echo throughout, but Crowded House imbues the material with their own distinctive flair. The result is an album that feels both quintessentially Crowded House and a meaningful maturation of their artistry over 30 years into a storied career.

In many ways, "Gravity Stairs" represents a continuation of Crowded House's core strengths. The album retains the well-crafted melodies, dreamy atmospherics, and intimate, earnest songwriting that defined beloved earlier works like their self-titled debut and "Woodface." At the same time, it finds the band evolving and stretching out, unafraid to explore new sonic and emotional terrain. While the band's initial run in the late '80s/early '90s produced more commercially successful singles, "Gravity Stairs" stands up to their best work in terms of songcraft and emotional resonance, with Finn's introspective lyrics pondering life's deepest questions.

Several tracks immediately emerge as highlights. Lead single "Oh Hi" bursts with a joyous sound and whistle-worthy chorus, its memorable refrain about "scaling the darkness with a lightbulb" hinting at hard-earned hope. "Teenage Summer" conjures a dreamy atmosphere, floating by "like a July breeze" and capturing feelings of fleeting youth. "All That I Can Ever Own" effortlessly withstands comparison to the band's greatest work, its timeless melody unspooling "like some long buried Beatles '66 outtake or a piece of sunshine."

Elsewhere, "The Howl," penned by Liam, showcases the band firing on all cylinders with its hypnotic circular guitar figure and yearning vocals. The sprawling "Magic Piano" establishes the album's alluring vibe with Finn's whirling, poetic songwriting. And folk-tinged love ballad "Some Greater Plan (for Claire)" provides one of the album's most moving moments with its tender portrait of enduring partnership.

Ultimately, "Gravity Stairs" testifies to Finn's restless creativity and the revitalized spirit that Liam and Elroy have injected into Crowded House. It's an album that meets the lofty standard of the band's cherished catalog, while signaling an exciting way forward. The songs are as strong as anything Finn has penned, full of hard-won wisdom, indelible hooks, and a sensitivity to life's bittersweet impermanence. Most importantly, it captures a legendary band still eager to climb to new heights. Crowded House's "Gravity Stairs" is a captivating journey with an ageless band that feels both warmly familiar and full of limitless possibility.

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