While The Church has been through peaks and troughs of popularity over the past 29 years, their fans remain loyal. Some of these loyal fans do, however, cause me to cringe when during live performances they continue to request radio hits from the '80s such as 'Under the Milky Way'. I wonder why they can't see past the singles and acknowledge the vast and timeless catalogue of music The Church has created since they formed in 1980. So I always hope that, with each new release such as this one, another era of fans are inducted and experience what I felt when I first heard 'Of Skins and Heart' back in 1981.
The band remains, to this day, a creative and artistic -- in the true sense of the word -- collective, so it was with excitement I listened to their new release, 'Untitled #23'.
'Cobalt Blue' is a dream-like melodious wander through the halcyon days of psychedelia without the kitsch value; some of the more beautiful guitar work I've ever heard on an album. 'Deadman's Hand' has a more pronounced groove and swallows the listener in a vocal, wall of sound, layer cake.
The Church has a lyrical finesse, which over the years has been fine-tuned and the songs on this album display an artistry in this arena. The songwriting skills of this band cannot merely be attributed to their longevity; think of all the '80s bands milking the music buying public at the moment with trite, money-making releases. No, The Church seems to be excelling in their craft throughout the years, and this album displays this abundance of talent.
The vocals in 'Happenstance' lull the body and excite the mind. The vocals feel -- through my headphones -- like they're weaving their way through my mind down, into my heart. 'Sunken Sun' contains a guitar solo which harkens me back to the best Pink Floyd had to offer. A tender and gentle song.
It's ironic to me that, when The Church first started out, Steve Kilbey's voice grated on me a little due to its 'not quite in key or on note' character. Now, this is precisely what I enjoy about his voice; this unpredictability. Other members of the band, particularly Marty Willson-Piper, have gentler voices which melt into Kilbey's, sweetening it.
'Anchorage' is the most intense song on the album, filled with an ocean of guitars. Peter Koppes and Tim Powles provide a backbone and skill not to be overlooked in this review; many people rave about Kilbey and Willson-Piper, forgetting The Church is a band, not a duo! The flute opening 'Lunar' and the mesmerising drum beat complement the medieval-style bass line. Kilbey sounds very similar to '70s John Lennon in this track.
The album brings to mind the trance-like, meandering brilliance of Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here', the songs interweaving through time and space to find your mind and to make you feel a certain way. 'Untitled #23' is an amazing album which will have longevity, because true style never goes in or out of fashion.
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This album was reviewed for The Dwarf.