Picks and Pans Review: Woodface

updated 08/12/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/12/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Crowded House

This Australian band's style is pure pop perfection, the sort of irresistibly fun stuff that must have Paul McCartney shaking his head and muttering, "Oh, yeah, so that's what I used to be able to do!"

Maybe what makes this album so good is the reunion of lead singer-songwriter Neil Finn and his brother Tim, who worked together as the core of another fine pop band, Split Enz, until 1984. Maybe it's the way this third House release is a nice middle ground between the band's cheery debut record and its moody (and underrated) second. Whatever; Woodface is the hand's most solid effort.

The record is a complete pop package, fun and hummable. You say you want a nice, tight little single with enough loud guitar to please rockers and a harmonious hook to please popsters? There's "Chocolate Cake." Want a lush ballad to set the tone in the wee hours? "All I Ask" is perfect.

And who hasn't been asking for a bouncy number wherein God wears sexy pants, walks a dachshund and gets jealous of Satan because the latter looks good wearing black? "There Goes God" is the ticket.

If anything, that humorously blasphemous song is the key to Crowded House. This band can consistently create smart, finely crafted pop tunes without losing track of the fact that pop music should never be taken too seriously, especially by people who make it. (Capitol)

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