Crowded House: Gravity Stairs – impossible not to admire these indelible pop songs

There isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, but it’s presented with such panache that you won’t be able to say no

Gravity Stairs
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Artist: Crowded House
Genre: Rock/Pop
Label: Lester Records/BMG

There is now a real family in Crowded House. Neil Finn, mainstay of Australasia’s premier pop group, writes and performs with his sons, Elroy and Liam (all three have Irish passports because of the Irish citizenship of Finn’s mother), and the cohesion between them is such that Gravity Stairs should really be called Well Oiled Escalator. In other words, there is flawless mobility from start to end.

Finn, who is now 66, may liken the album’s title to “getting a little older and becoming aware of your own mortality, your own physicality”, but he and his long-time bandmates Nick Seymour and Mitchell Froom aren’t submitting to the passing of years any time soon. “There’s more determination needed to get to the top,” he adds, “but there’s still the same compulsion to climb them.”

The follow-up to Dreamers Are Waiting, their pandemic-induced album from 2021, which featured the same (then exploratory) line-up, Gravity Stairs has an even stronger sense of resilience. While the cover flagrantly pastiches Klaus Voormann’s work on the Beatles album Revolver, there are no such barefaced influences to be found in the songs. With more than 40 years of sterling work behind him, Finn’s songwriting (like that of other Beatles-inspired songwriters, such as Ron Sexsmith and Noel Gallagher) has morphed into its own thing: indelible pop songs that are hard-wired to appeal, impossible not to admire.

Take your pick from Magic Piano’s delicate whimsy (“who’s that joker with the crooked smile, in the car that speeds away from the scene of the crime?”), Oh Hi’s childlike jauntiness (“when it comes to being clever, I should never count anyone out”), Black Water, White Circle’s winding spookiness (“I must be dreaming, the lizards screaming, don’t look for meaning”) and All That I Can Ever Own’s sheepish self-awareness (“my worries keep me awake, every night I’m fearful”).


There isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, but it’s presented with such panache that you won’t be able to say no.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture