It makes a change from “essential” or “ultimate”, but there’s something rather tiresome about a compilation that considers itself so “very” that it feels compelled to repeat the word. And let’s be honest, do we really have to be drawn to one of the most perfect pop groups of the last quarter-century with a spot of hollow marketing hyperbole?
There’s little in the way of surprises here, the vast majority of these selections present and correct on the group’s last best of, 1996’s chart-topping Recurring Dream. The obtuse and witty Chocolate Cake is a welcome addition (as would be any song that berates fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber in its opening line) but, beyond that, you can probably guess the identity of the other 18 tracks.
Distant Sun remains the high watermark, a brilliantly layered piece of music simultaneously complex and direct, and it’s almost matched by the anthemic and uplifting Weather With You, the moptop minimalism of It’s Only Natural, and the warming country slow dance, Better Be Home Soon. A marvellous testament to Neil Finn’s innate pop crafstmanship – or should that be very very marvellous?