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Untitled #23 review from Australia's Rave Music Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Originally published at http://www.ravemagazine.com.au/content/view/13898/180/
THE CHURCH – Untitled #23      
Tuesday, 24 February 2009

(Unorthodox/MGM)

Album number 23 from Australian guitar stalwarts brims with familiar delights

Changes are no good, as The Stills memorably sung on their one and only great album. Philosophising aside, the disciples know what to expect with every Church release as the iconic space-rockers’ key elements – Steve Kilbey’s forever-young voice, mystical lyrics and meditative bass pulse, Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes’ multi-layered, substratal guitars, Tim Powles’ subdued yet authoritative drumbeats – have remained unmodified for years. So cool they didn’t even bother finding a name for their new full-length, The Church are still very much the same band they were on 2006’s understated Uninvited Like The Clouds and its monumental predecessors Forget Yourself and After Everything Now This. Take the first four tracks for proof: Cobalt Blue is a classic Church opener in the vein of Sealine, Numbers or Anaesthesia; Deadman’s Hand rides on a gloriously sinister, overdriven arpeggio motif; Pangaea starts off like a sequel to Gold Afternoon Fix’s Grind before soaring into the stratosphere for the chorus; Happenstance’s European canon chord progression and silvery guitars (with a melting-iceberg E-bow solo among them) hark back to OK Computer-era Radiohead while retaining old Steve and co’s signature vibe. Yes, it’s still the same beautiful high, every bit worth the two-and-a-half year wait (not counting the superb B-sides/outtakes compilations Beside Yourself and Back With Two Beasts and this January’s Shriek: Excerpts From The Soundtrack). The concluding treble of Anchorage, Willson-Piper-sung Lunar and Operetta rolls in steady, big waves like the Bondi surf. Same gold.

****½

DENIS SEMCHENKO

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