The Finn Brothers, Everyone Is Here FOUR STARS
They started out as Split Enz, then morphed into Crowded House and finally ended up with parallel solo careers. Now Tim and Neil Finn are together again, and without a band to hide behind, they might be doing their best work. As popular as Peter Jackson in their native New Zealand, the Finn Brothers fly under the pop culture radar in this country. And that's too bad, because unlike most past-their-prime performers, these guys are worth listening to.
This music will get under your skin, not just for its inventive melodies (like classic Crowded House), but also for the wry, touching lyrics. "Disembodied Voices" is about the brothers' childhood: "Talking with my brother when / The lights went out / Down the hallway 40 years ago / What became much harder was so easy then / Opening up and letting go." And "Homesick" offers a spot-on critique of rampant consumerism.
These are mostly mellow songs, and one of them -- "Edible Flowers" -- is certainly one of their best ever.
-- Ted S. McGregor Jr.
The Cardigans, Long Gone Before Daylight FOUR STARS
For the longest time, I just wrote the Cardigans off as the throwaway Scandinavian popsters of the minute. And it wasn't until I heard their third record, Gran Turismo, that I did a double take on the Cardigans. It was an album that perfectly blended pop and rock standards with electronic beats, and it was pure genius.
And here, on Long Gone Before Daylight, the Cardigans are in every way just as pleasing as before - but they couldn't be more different. Here you can tell that the Cardigans have thrown the e-brake on as far as their hardcore and alternative roots are concerned, and that singer Nina Persson has had a few honky-tonk records in her car stereo. The album takes a rootsy route, exploring the same complicated territory that they've explored before, but this time on a more straight-ahead rock road. Persson is very twangy in parts (odd, coming from a Swede), and guitarist Peter Svensson throws in rockabilly-esque riffs - and the mix creates a refreshing and unique new sound for the Cardigans. There's very little here like anything they've done before - and that just goes to show what a versatile band the Cardigans really are.
-- Leah Sottile
Publication date: 11/04/04