Five years after the ARIA-nominated success of 2005's female-fronted She Will Have Her Way compilation, the back catalog of Neil and Tim Finn, two of Australia's most celebrated singer/songwriters, is raided yet again for another album of covers. As its title suggests, He Will Have His Way gives the country's male musicians the opportunity to offer their take on 16 of the brothers' classic pop songs over the last 30 years, from both of their groups, Crowded House and Split Enz, their respective solo careers, and their 1994 joint collaboration. An album of two halves, some artists respectfully doth their cap to the Finns with faithful renditions of the source material, such as Augie March's notoriously moody frontman Glenn Richards' surprisingly straightforward performance of Split Enz's perky 1979 hit "She Got Body, She Got Soul"; Paul Kelly and Angus Stone's duet on "Four Seasons in One Day," a track from the Finns' biggest commercial success, Woodface, and Oh Mercy's version of Crowded House's "I Feel Possessed," where lead singer Alexander Gow sounds uncannily like the writer and performer of the original song himself. On the flipside, several of Australia and New Zealand's more experimental acts riskily attempt to put their own stamp on some much-loved and cherished songs, with predictably mixed results. Dance-punk trio Art Versus Science unnecessarily ramp up the breakneck-speed guitar solos and snarling vocals of the Split Enz's already chaotic art-rock anthem "I See Red" to produce one almighty unlistenable racket, while the Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele provides an equally messy offering on a warped sci-fi reworking of Crowded House's "Better Be Home Soon," which sounds completely out of place next to the more conventional offerings. However, the likes of Boy & Bear and Chris Cheney are far more successful with their interpretations, the former adding a gorgeous Arcade Fire-esque hymnal quality to the radio staple "Fall at Your Feet," and the latter stripping back the melodic pop/rock of "Distant Sun" with a simple but effective, bluesy, solo electric guitar retooling. Elsewhere, Darren Hayes continues his swirling electronica reinvention with a wistful take on Tim Finn's "Not Even Close," the Mint Chicks' Kody Nielson provides a psychedelic breakbeat edge to Finn's ambient closer "Kiss the Road of Rarotonga," while Dan Sultan and the Break capture the surf rock spirit of Split Enz's "Shark Attack" with some added underwater sound effects and tremolo guitars. With such a wealth of material to choose from, it's a shame that no band decided to cover anything later than Neil Finn's 1997 debut Try Whistling This, especially considering Crowded House's recent triumphant return. But although most of He Will Have His Way pales in comparison both to the originals and its more pleasant ladies' counterpart, it's an admirable attempt at introducing the works of the Finn Brothers to a younger audience.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien