- Article by: Jamie McCormick
- Posted: 09/20/2011
Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Pajama Club is an “accidental” project involving Neil Finn, former Crowded House frontman and writer of hits like “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and his wife, Sharon Finn. Parents of two, the Finns discovered that, beneath several layers of parenthood, late nights and wine, they loved playing music together.
Though Neil has a prolific past as a songwriter and band member, bringing his wife along with him seems to have provided a fresh, new perspective on the music business. Their first album, a self-titled project on which Sean Donnelly and Alana Skyring join the duo, dropped September 13, and it’s truly worth a listen.
With influences and undercurrents ranging from ‘60s era Beatles pop to late ‘70s classic rock riffs and grooves to early 2000s-style hip-hop beats, the mix of genres on the eponymous new album runs the gamut, but fluidly and without being too distracting.
At the top of the record, the first track, “Tell Me What You Want,” demands attention with a thumping, beat-driven riff to open the tune. But the song grows more intriguing once the vocal track sneaks its way onto the scene. Understated and scratchily provocative, Neil's unusual vocal style offsets the flashy instrumentation, almost daring you to listen to the lyrics. And you'll strain your ears to do it.
Though the album lags a bit in the middle, with a few bright spots in a mostly repetitive series of songs, it finishes stronger than it began, winning you over by the end. “Dead Leg” and “TNT for 2” provide a lyrical depth not seen in the rest of the album, and a touch of something heartbreaking hides within the vocals. With simple but striking musicianship and a swaying, airy feel, these two tracks hint at the songwriting background of the group as a whole.
The penultimate track, “The Game We Love to Play,” provides an almost dark and lurking break from the synth-filled pop of the rest of the album. With an unpredictable hip-hop groove, jazzy vocals and solid songwriting, everyone wins, and Pajama Club convincingly pull off the genre-meshing feat.
Finishing off the record is the chanting and spacey “Diamonds In Her Eyes,” which necessitates head-swinging to its classic rock groove and alien-like synths.
The mostly mid-tempo album unites influences and sounds that span the lives and careers of the artists who created it. And though you might imagine that the band behind the curtain is a handful of hip youngsters creating a new soundtrack for the video games they love, the culprits are actually middle-aged parents who just don't seem to care about “supposed to” anymore.
"From a Friend to a Friend" - Pajama Club