“Woodface reunited the band’s front man and principal songwriter Neil Finn with his big brother, Tim, with whom he had previously played in the eccentric, influential cult group Split Enz” (Gardner). “More than half of the album was originally conceived as a Finn Brothers project, which was Tim and Neil’s first crack at writing together. The songs are easily their finest to date, combining flawless melodies and the outstanding harmonies of the brothers’ perfectly matched voices” (Woodstra). The album’s “consistency and complexity secured the Finns’ status as smart-pop heroes” (Gardner).
“Where Crowded House’s previous album, Temple of Low Men, showcased the often dark side of a man alone with his thoughts, Woodface represents the joy of reunion and the freedom of a collaborative effort” (Woodstra). This is an “album that’s filled with intelligence, grace, and humor, not to mention absolutely breathtaking vocal harmonies. There is a depth and texture to the songwriting and performance in the songs of Crowded House, which is just not found in most popular music” (CdUniverse.com).
Album opener Chocolate Cake “would have easily fit onto either of the two preceding albums” (Starostin). With “its thinly veiled attack on mass culture values” (Starostin), the song “categorized Americans as fat and greedy and didn’t exactly earn the band a top spot on U.S. airplay lists” (CdUniverse.com). It not only “hits really hard…metaphorically [but] literally, with a mean drum attack and angry guitar wailing” (Starostin).
”The disc moves to the stunning Its Only Natural” (CdUniverse.com) which is “ well-written, well-played, and well-meaning” (Starostin).
Fall at Your Feet is “romantic without being too sappy, moderately catchy without being annoying” (Starostin). “There’s one moment of really really pretty modulation…where [Neil] goes ‘I’ll be waiting when you call’. That moment happens to be truly captivating” (Starostin).
”Just listen to Weather with You to find out how perfect pop music can be—it’s a track that manages the difficult task of never devolving into sentimentality or inanity” (CdUniverse.com). It was this song that finally broke Crowded House in the U.K. – the song crawled its way up to #7 on their song chart, one of a whopping five songs from the album to land on the U.K. singles chart.
”The stirring surrender of Four Seasons in One Day further demonstrates Neil Finn’s ability to transform his deepest, most disturbed emotions into great songs” (CdUniverse.com). “It is really a pretty, utterly believable ‘philosophical ballad’” (Starostin).
An argument can be made that this album could be pared down a few songs, but weaker songs like Tall Trees, Fame Is, and Italian Plastic keep the album from tipping too heavily to an adult contemporary sound. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to lop off She Goes On and How Will You Go - they aren’t bad songs, but by the time we’ve gotten to the end of the album, there’s no need to add any slow tempo tunes to a collection that already gave us the brilliant balladry of “It’s Only Natural,” “Fall at Your Feet,” “Weather with You,” and “Four Seasons in One Day;” not to mention “All I Ask” and “As Sure As I Am.”
When all is said and done, though, this is Crowded House’s most interesting album, if not their best. Adding Tim Finn “brought an offbeat edge to Neil’s polished song craft, resulting in biting, ironic rockers…and…pointed, wistful ballads” (Gardner). "’Beauty’ is not a word often used to describe pop music. But in the case of…Crowded House, it is more than appropriate” (CdUniverse.com).