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CMJ Review of Starfish Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 January 2005

Originally published at http://www.cmj.com/articles/display_article.php?id=11736

THE CHURCH: Starfish
The Church has been a household name in their native Australia for years now, but things haven't been as easy for them in the States. With this third coming (on yet another label-both Capitol and Warner Bros. have had a shot), their first domestic release in two years and best work yet, The Church should make the big splash that so many knew was coming. Starfish is a highly lyrical and textured work, with acoustic and electric guitars ringing, chiming and swirling to stunning effect-the band's trademark-now more refined and vibrant than before. It's not just that the songs are full of meaty hooks, but it's the way the subtler elements in their sound come together that puts it over the top. Listen to how Steve Kilbey's distant, breathy vocals and harmonies mesh with the mellifluous guitars and sparse keyboard sprinklings, and to how the rhythm section sets the tone for each song, gracefully building and subsiding, framing Kilbey's oft dark words and feelings. "Under The Milky Way" is already faring well with programmers, but this record runs deep. The ethereal sounds of early Pink Floyd ("Destination"), the boldness of Echo ("North, South, East And West"), and the pop savvy of Lloyd Cole ("Reptile") together make Starfish a cohesive and compelling work. If you're looking for pop salvation, look no further than The Church. "A New Season" and "Antenna" could even make The Pope start toting a walkman.
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