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2 Heyday reviews Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 January 1986

Unknown Source

1986

Heyday Review

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THE CHURCH

Heyday

(Warner Bros.)

As befits their name, the Church plays music which can best be described in one word--devotional. The Church, you see, shows a distinct and noticeable respect for such ever-falling-by-the-wayside-in-these-heathen-times concepts as melody, harmony and structure, and the group does what it does in such an ordered, stately fashion that one is hard pressed to figure out why on you-know-who?s earth more people haven?t even heard of them, let alone made them as popular as they ought to, by divine right, really be.


They have, after all, been making exceptionally good records since their American debut for Capitol in 1982 and, even though they spent several years excommunicated from American record companies (the Australian quartet finally hooked up with U.S. Warner Bros. in late ?84), even cursory listenings to any of the assorted imported and domestic LPs and EPs in their catalogue makes it clear that not only is their stuff good, and memorable, but it also displays an unerring clarity of vision that?s really quite remarkable for what is essentially still a youngish band. Perhaps their lack of good fortune here has been just one more test of faith. If so, then Heyday should go a long way towards getting them over to the promised land.


On this new album, as in their past work, the Church gives us songs which require some attention to be appreciated (which is why they?ve been compared at times to Procol Harum), songs which lyrically resist revealing themselves too easily (which is why they?ve been compared at times to R.E.M.), songs which clearly have been painstakingly honed, part by part, until they literally shimmer (which is why they?ve been compared at times to the Byrds), songs which seem endlessly gliding and spatial (which is why they?ve been compared at times to early Pink Floyd). But all these reference points are just that--little anchors that keep letting you know from what waters the Church?s gospel flows.


And flow it does--steadily, gracefully, often majestically. You wonder how the band manages to sound so serene, even at its most furious moments, like on the churning ?Night Of Light? and ?Tantalized?; how a song as deliriously opaque as ?Myrrh? can still hit home; how the lilting ?Columbus? can haunt you day after day after day, with no end in sight. And then you realize that it?s the very mystery of these songs that make them so enchanting, and that that quality is exactly what?s missing from so much of what passes for rock these days, and why the Church is such a special group. Amen.


Billy Altman


Unknown Source

1986


Heyday Review


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THE CHURCH

Heyday

(Warner Bros.)


The Church and Mental As Anything have little in common except their Australianness. The former revel in a pastel shade of psychedelia that has come to symbolize a particular strain of Antipodean revisionism. The latter meld their art school backgrounds with a countrified, good ol? boy sensibility that could only come from spending too much time in the pub and at the beach. The results though are similar: accessible pop-rock which transcends its Anglo-American roots to come up with something all its own.


The Church are easily the best of the Australian pseudo-psychedelic bands. They may not have the Hoodoo Gurus? sense of humor, but they have a ready substitute in their precise ear for haunting melodies and a gift for song craft. In the past, as on last year?s Remote Luxury, lead vocalist/bassist Steve Kilbey hid the quartet?s talents under layers of paisley pretense. Here, with songs like ?Columbus,? ?Tristesse,? and ?Night Of Light,? Kilbey has wisely ditched the affectations and instead concentrates on writing strong pop songs that just happen to have a paisley undertow. Another plus is that unlike many of their American counterparts, the Church don?t kneel at the altar of underproduction. Britisher Peter Walsh, known for his work with Simple Minds, has livened up Kilbey?s drone-style vocals and given the band a hard-edged kick.


Cary Darling


Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 December 2005 )
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