Ah, Woodface, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1. For your wonderful guitar sounds.
2. For your sumptuous harmonies.
3. For your memorable lyrics.
4. For your superb production.
5. But most of all, for your unforgettable songs.
Neil Finn, ladies and genteleman. The Antipodean Lennon AND McCartney rolled into one who, in this finest of albums, presents to the world a collection of pop songs that will delight your aural senses time after time after time.
Twelve years or more have passed since this album was recorded, but it still sounds fresh and joyous to this day. Mitchell Froom, long time collaborator and producer of Crowded House took his final bow with the band on this album and left a legacy of one of the finest pop albums ever recorded. Most people will be familiar with "Weather with you" and many with the likes of "It's only natural", but the album, from the opening bars of "Chocolate Cake", right though to the closing bars of "How will you go" hardly ever lets up from utter perfection.
Not only are the melodies memorable, but the lyrics evocative and they nag at your subconscious. Finn has a clever line or two to sing that sinks into your brain, but never manages to be irritating.
Buy it. You'll love it. It's only natural.
on 17 May 2006
Neil Finn's song writing has often been compared to even the highlights of the Lennon/McCartney partnership. Actually, Paul could/should have learned a thing or two from Finn in the early 90s. Never were the similarities more obvious than on Woodface, an album packed with great melodies, straight driven arrangements and a gorgeous production. Neil's brother, Tim, joined Crowded House on this album and not only does their partnership shine on the song writing level but even more in the harmonizing on many songs, Tim complementing Neil very successfully on many tracks.
The one track that seems at odds with the album was interestingly the first track and incredibly chosen as the first single. Chocolate Cake is a rocking song but the weakest track on the album, with the brothers seeming to salvage a song that just isn't good enough, radio wise at least. I admit having grown to the song in a strange way but yet always have mixed feelings towards it. This odd single selection must certainly have insured a commercial disaster in the States and could have done the same thing internationally.
After Chocolate Cake it's a bonanza of great solid tunes like the joyful It's Only Natural and Weather With You (a huge hit everywhere in the world, including my 3 year old son's world, except the States) and slower tunes such as Fall At Your Feet and Four Seasons In One Day (my son loves that one too and its corny video). The later part of the album is much slower but no less fulfilling. As Sure As I Am showcases an atmosphere of togetherness whilst How Will You Go reminds me of the plight someone close to me deals with daily due to alcoholism.
This album deserves 5 stars despite not being from my standpoint the masterpiece many people regard it to be, maybe simply because their crowning achievement in my view is Together Alone. I have heard few albums with so many solid songs in my lifetime and is of Crowded House's two lighter sounding albums, their first self titled album being the other one, much better, despite of the inclusion of Don't Dream It's Over on the first one (which is available on their Recurring Dream compilation).
on 17 September 2000
Crowded House were at the peak of their powers when they made this beautifully understated album. It's studded with their most timeless hits and those tracks inbetween reinforce the mood of rainy day introspection. The Finns hark to the Beatles, Nick Drake, Difford and Tillbrook with solid straight down the middle songwriting and simple unfussy arrangements. Lyrics resound with meaning without being over clever. As pop LPs go this is close to perfection. Why we don't see it in all-time polls I'll never know.
on 2 April 2006
This album, along with The Spin Doctors' Pocketful of Kryptonite and R.E.M.'s Out Of Time, reminds me of a time in the early 1990s when alternative bands dressed in their Byrds-like finery and played quite sunny, wistful, folk pop rock about nature, love and friendship.
`Chocolate Cake' is a moodily humourous song with a blues-like ending. It's a pleasant start to the album. `It's only natural', like a few other songs on this album, has a slightly quirky start. It reminds me of the short bursts of music that you hear inbetween scenes in comedy shows like Friends. Neil Finn's singing style is clean, resonant, harmonious and comfortable with himself. `Fall at your feet' may be Crowded House's `Every move you make'. Like a few other songs on this album, the last verse is faster than the others. `Tall Trees' is pleasantly strident. I particularly like the part where the last verse is interspersed with guitar playing (`The salt from your skin/ Tall Trees/ Tall Tree').
`Weather with you' features a Byrds-like jingle jangle sound at the beginning and between the verses and choruses. It also has some of my favourite lines: `Things ain't cooking in my kitchen. Strange affliction wash over me. Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire Couldn't conquer the blue sky.' Although those last two lines could be intended to convey that there is always freedom somewhere, I think that they are also saddening- as the Stone Roses put it in `Tightrope' from their `Second Coming' album- `Are we etched in stone or just scratched in the sand?' `Whispers and moans' is a moody song with a slightly mystical sound and featuring what sounds like a glockenspiel. Some of my favourite parts are when the line `When I wake up in your room' rises up and when Neil Finn shouts about things that will `one day be forgotten'.
`Four seasons in one day' is a slow, dream-like song with a deep sound balanced by quiet harmonies. `There goes God' begins with screechy instrumentation, with violins throughout the song. The urgency of `Fame is' is similar to `Tall Trees'. The song begins with the words `Forked lightning', which seems to tie in well with the previous song (in depictions of God, he is sometimes shown displaying his wrath by sending lightning down to Earth). The band hint at their work ethic with the lines `Love children of the new age. Just a hippy with a weekly wage. There's no rebellion, just a chance to be lazy.' On the verses, small scribbles of violins conjure up the image to me of a classical, decadent civilisation. Like a few songs on the album, the song ends with starry-eyed proclamations of what is to come: `And of all your spells will break, And all of your stars will fall. So look out for number one. Fame is in your blood'.
`All I ask' has a gently meandering, quiet start. It is the kind of slightly quirky, start that Thomas Newman would do (he did the music for `American Beauty' and `Six feet under'), or the kind of bashfully beautiful music used in adventure games (I thought that it would suit the one of the quiet sections in Metroid Prime). The song features poignant lyrics: `I pity the rhino. Down there it's becoming extinct'. I actually thought that the following line was : `I'd kill for a love potion', which would have been darkly humourous/ironic because it wouldn't have sounded like he literally would have killed for a love potion- it would have sounded like he simply really wanted one (with the fact that some love potions are made from ground rhino horn making the dream of having a love potion impossible to him). The actual line is `Killed for a love potion'. If the lyrics I had heard had been the actual ones, the following line `Sad thing, looking like a dead flower', would have then brought the singer back to the reality of what is required to make a love potion.
`Italian Plastic', by Paul Hester, features harmonies sung for comedic effect at the end and a last, Beatles-esque `Who ya gonna take to the ball tonight? Who ya gonna take to the dance tonight?'. The song adds a bit of `Chocolate Cake' lightness to the album.
`She goes on' sounds a bit like a soaring sequel to `Four seasons in one day'. It contains the wistful, poignant lines: `'Til we see her once again/ In a world without end'. (the word `world' is stressed and the line features alliteration with the repetition of the `w' sound. `How will you go' features a typically energetic, enigmatic and poignant part towards the end of the song: `And you know I'll be fine/ Just don't ask me how it's going/ Gimme time, gimme time/'Cos I want you to see/Round the world, round the world/Is a tangled up necklace of pearls). Following this is a piece of music that is sparkling and fresh, conjuring up an image of the sea to me.
After a period of silence, the band start sounding like monkeys and singing `I'm still here/ I won't go away'. The Stone Roses used a similar type of ending on their 1994 Second Coming album, which ended with them scratching away a tune partly similar to `They're coming to take me away'.
Although I have only listened to extracts from their other albums (the beautiful, quirky, Pineapple Head sounds like a medieval lullaby), Crowded House's sound on Woodface is as clean and fresh as I imagine New Zealand air to be. It is an album quite free of angst and comfortable to listen to but never ordinary. If you like Crowded House, you may also like The La's and similar bands.
whispers and moans
she goes on
fall at your feet
four seasons in one day
newly reformed and ready to hit the road with their new album, its time to take you back to the pinnacle of their greatness. the solid woodface album from 1991 is the strongest showcase of their work, and they have never quite bettered it.
every song on this album is a standout track from the comical andrew loydd webber bashing of chocolate cake, to the thought provoking and possibly best track they ever made, whispers and moans. this is songwriting at its finest. the diversity of sounds on this album from the rockier 'tall trees' to the acoustic brilliance and harmonies of 'four seasons in one day' and the beautiful take on the loss of a loved one from 'she goes on' with the lyrics "pretty soon you will be able to remember her, lying in the garden singing. right where she will always be, the door is always open" are both poignant and inspiring.
this is a classic album and a firm favourite of mine now for some 20 odd years. one listen and you will be hooked too
on 19 February 2013
Had this album on tape in my younger days. Sometimes when you try to relive your childhood memories you are only dissapointed. This album doesn't dissapoint. Great chill out songs. Intelligent and quirky lyrics.
on 30 January 2008
Woodface is the record that broke Crowded House in the UK and most of Europe. It's also one of the finest albums of the 90's and more than deserved its high sales and 4 big hit singles. Starting life as a solo Finn Brothers collection the project quickly morphed into a full blown Crowded House album full of gorgeous, beautifully crafted Beatlesque songs. It's fair to say that the Finn brothers fully embraced the fab four comparisons on Woodface and ran with it.
Four Season's In One Day, Fall At Your feet, Its Only Natural and the smash Weather With You sound as catchy and melodic as they first did over 15 years ago. But there is so much more to Woodface than the hits - Whispers and Moans, How Will You Go and Shes Goes On are terrific ballads, Tall Trees is punchy powerpop and All i Ask is a Tim sung belter - his voice never sounding better.
Crowded House have recently reformed and released the impressive Time On Earth - but it's Woodface, and the darker follow up Together Alone, that the antipodean band built their reputation around. It still sounds great.
A timeless and beautifully paced record.
on 7 June 2004
Woodface, it is a truly great album, it really is!!! there are some really great songs on here, four seasons, fall at your feet, weather with you, its only natural etc.
these songs are quite simply IMMORTAL, and for crowdies and newbies alike, they're easy listening and the sheer brilliance of these songs can be appreciated at once. i would say that past the first six tracks, you have to really listen to the album to get the most out of the songs. this is not to say that they're not at all good, they are - but they're just harder to get into and harder to love.
woodface is the equivalent to radiohead's OKComp, it is the more polished version of TOLM, it is therefore less broody and i don't think as deep and as true as TOLM - just like The Bends is starker and more emotionally charged than OKC.
yet in conclusion, it is a must in anyone's cd collection - and a DEFINATE for anyone remotely interested in Crowded House. it will surprise you, i certainly love it!!!
This has to be one of the greatest album to emerge from the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, it is probably one of the best albums of the Nineties.
The strength is in the song writing - 'Woodface' is a master class in how to write a great album, with such classics as 'Chocolate Cake', 'Four seasons in one Day' the timeless 'Weather With You'.
The melodies are so strong, the vocals and harmonies delicious and the production superb.
on 9 June 2014
I'm not sure how you measure up one Crowded House album against another (reading other people's reviews). I love bits of all of them for different reasons. But mostly it's Neil's voice that does it for me.
If you've never bought a CH album before then you might be best starting with a Greatest Hits....then come back and collect all the real albums, once you're hooked.