Powderfinger
Dream Days At The Hotel Existence


3.5
great

Review

by Jim USER (23 Reviews)
October 13th, 2007 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After a year’s hiatus and several side-projects, the king of Australian rock's crown tilts ever so slightly. In fact, it may be time to hand it over.

I guess it's not surprising that this sixth studio effort from the Australian five-some Powderfinger sees the band marching into even more mainstream territory. Following the success of 2003's Vulture Street, which supplied commercial radio with a swarm of hits (some of them not even singles), it's almost inevitable that the pressures of the majority would eventually see the band resting on their laurels, rather than pushing the envelope a little further. This isn’t to say the already mega successful Powderfinger have anything to prove – in fact I don’t think anyone is seriously bothered about the lack of experimentation or ambition found in Dream Days at the Hotel Existence – but I honestly think they should be.

What Dream Days unfortunately represents for the band is an obvious need to settle down and start making “nice music”, all the while slowly edging their way into the adult-contemporary section of your local music store. What this unfortunately represents for us – the fanatical faithful who have no intention of “growing up” – is that the days of such exuberant singles such as Pick You Up or Day You Come topping the charts is sadly coming to a rather anticlimactic end. Here the youthful songs of album’s past are traded for more mature, earthly cuts that would appeal more to fans of swampy, bluegrass rock than moody, enigmatic pop.

Lead single Lost & Running is a fitting example, being an obvious tip-of-the-hat to the great Rolling Stones, with it’s laidback approach and simple acoustic charm. It does a pretty good job summing up the attitude of the album, and also did a pretty good job of dividing long-time fans, who mostly didn’t get it. Fortunately, whether the disgruntled fans acknowledge it or not, it’s actually a surprisingly catchy number that will only grow with repeated listens. Second single I Don’t Remember is another feel-good track that will flourish with a little time – obviously to make up for the awards it won’t be receiving in the originality department. Nevertheless, it proves the multiple ARIA award winners haven’t forgotten how to write a good song.

And this is the aspect of the album I find horribly baffling – there actually isn’t a bad song present. While there are obviously a few tracks that stand heads above the rest, it is actually quite consistent, which is fairly commendable seeing how little it strays off the mainstream path the band are so obviously aiming towards. Ballads Wishing On the Same Moon and Nobody Sees do very little different than what the band has done better before, yet they are still strong tracks which utilize the variety and flexibility the band is capable of – especially when placed on either side of the maniacal Who Really Cares (Featuring the Sound of Insanity), which includes famed keyboardist Benmont Tench (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) providing his own dramatic additions to the already rocking tune.

The gorgeous Long Way to Go proves the sentimental winner, with the usual heart-wrenching lyrics fortunately surviving the band’s search for a wider appeal, while opener Head Up in the Clouds proves to be the strongest track on the record, tipping it’s hat toward their 2000 effort Odyssey Number Five in regards to the atmospheric guitars and moody vocals, which otherwise don’t feature on the rest of the album much. Listen also for the politically-fueled Black Tears which – considering the controversy surrounding it – is really just an enigmatic acoustic piece designed to make us white folk think a little harder about our actions in the future. Fair enough, really.

So there you have it, Powderfinger grow some grey hairs on their latest record and survive with dignity intact. Unfortunately however, Dream Days at the Hotel Existence doesn’t amount to the complete excitement of their previous record, or even the emotional impact of Odyssey Number Five, but rather seems content to stroll along as though it’s unaware it could be the beginning of the slow downfall of one of Australia’s greatest acts. It’s by no means a bad album, just far too pedestrian. Or maybe I just need to grow up.



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user ratings (52)
Chart.
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
October 13th 2007


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review! I definitely agree.

JumpTheF**kUp
October 13th 2007


2722 Comments


I've missed you Mr. Ali
Great review, as always. Haven't heard anything from this except for the single, though.

samthebassman
October 13th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I found this album a bit disappointing...

Meatplow
October 13th 2007


5524 Comments


Good review, I loved Internationalist and Odyssey No. 5.. They were a very solid Aussie rock act in their day, I think i'll give this one a pass though I could imagine it being boring to my tastes.

Jim
October 14th 2007


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was quite disappointed in the album also. Like I said in the review, it's quite consistent yet never amounts to anything they've achieved before.

[quote=JumpTheF**kUp]I've missed you Mr. Ali [/quote]

lawlz

I've returned on a more casual basis for now. I took a break because I got a bit bored really :P thanks for the support!

And thanks for the kudos guys ;D

Jim
September 11th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

new album is called Golden Rule, and will be released November 13th.



new single All of the Dreamers will be online and on radio September 25th.



fingers crossed

waxhead
December 23rd 2009


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sorry Jim.

Didn't like your review.

I think you're being way too hard on any musician, or band, expecting them to be able to produce something very different every CD they make. I am a musician and it's just impossible to do what you seem to expect. No-one in history has ever done it either.



Powderfinger have their own style, as all musicians do, and Dream Days certainly sounds like them. There's also a lot of excellently crafted songs on this CD and some brilliant playing but your review ignores that and bags them cause it sounds too much like..... well... Powderfinger.



I prefer Dream Days to Golden Rule but it ain't as great as Odyssey or Vulture St. And expecting any Aussie band to ever make anything as great as those 2 CD's again is also unreasonable IMO.

Eclectic
December 23rd 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I recognize what you're saying,and I respect it, but this album isn't up to the band's standard. The band as a whole were tired, even Bernard Fanning himself admits that, and it shows. Its not so much that its the same old thing when progression is needed, but the fact that its digression, its the same old shit but its not as good as the previous stuff. Powderfinger put relatively little effort into it.

Jim
December 23rd 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sorry Jim.

Didn't like your review.

I think you're being way too hard on any musician, or band, expecting them to be able to produce something very different every CD they make. I am a musician and it's just impossible to do what you seem to expect. No-one in history has ever done it either.



Powderfinger have their own style, as all musicians do, and Dream Days certainly sounds like them. There's also a lot of excellently crafted songs on this CD and some brilliant playing but your review ignores that and bags them cause it sounds too much like..... well... Powderfinger.



I prefer Dream Days to Golden Rule but it ain't as great as Odyssey or Vulture St. And expecting any Aussie band to ever make anything as great as those 2 CD's again is also unreasonable IMO.






i disagree with a lot of your points - mainly that the album has some brilliant playing or that it's too much to expect them to try and reach the creative hights they have previously - but respect that and am glad that you like the album. it's always nice to have more powderfinger fans on the site.



in the end, the album is still good (in fact, newcomers to the band may find it more accessible than others), but everything just seems to be a diluted imitation of what they've done successfully before. all i know is that when i want to listen to powderfinger (which is regularly) i never seem to feel like listening to this.

Eclectic
December 23rd 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oi, Jim, are you planning on seeing them when they tour next year (they darn well better be touring!)

Jim
December 24th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

probably not. i've seen them enough, you see!

Eclectic
December 24th 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha, fair enough, and really they're not terribly great judging by their live DVD.

Jim
December 24th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

they've had good shows and average ones. kinda comes down to the set list i think. plus they seem to be better in smaller venues.

Eclectic
December 24th 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, sounds about right. Their songs are arena-like anthems but they just can't pull it off as well as they should be able to. Plus Bernard Fanning canNOT get over his bloody mike stand, I swear every time I see him live anywhere he's clutching it like its his wife.

Jim
December 24th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol yeah i know what you mean. the problem is they just aren't particularly clean players, and they usually take a couple of songs before they find their feet.



acoustically though they can be phenomenal. have you heard the acoustic set on their live album? amazing.

Eclectic
December 24th 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, I loved it. Fanning has a great set of vocal chords, nobody can deny that, he's just got to use them to full effect.



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