Temple of Low Men (Deluxe)

Temple of Low Men (Deluxe)

What’s a band to do after their debut album turns them into a household name? Make an altogether less inviting follow-up, of course. While “Don’t Dream It’s Over” from 1986’s Crowded House put the band on every map, 1988’s Temple of Low Men offers no immediately accessible songs.   It seems singer and chief songwriter Neil Finn, was searching for something with more thematic (and personal) gravitas than that song’s simple message of optimism, and on Crowded House’s second record, he plumbed the depths of his own existential malaise to get there. Pleasingly, its darkness would be added to the light of their debut to create the beauteous balancing act of 1991’s Woodface.   In form and function, Temple of Low Men is a purposely back-to-front affair. Its last single was its first track—the decidedly radio-averse “I Feel Possessed”—while its lead single and biggest hit, “Better Be Home Soon,” was relegated to the end of the album. On every level, Finn makes the listener work to appreciate everything. If it’s not a disarmingly confronting account of infidelity (“Into Temptation”), it’s about how wealth impoverishes health (“Mansion in the Slums”) or Finn waking up to the screams of his sister’s nightmares (initially maligned single turned fan favourite, “Sister Madly”).

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