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Starfish review - little mention of Milky Way Print E-mail
Friday, 01 January 1988

A track-by-track review of Starfish

Unknown Australian source
Early 1988

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The Church: Starfish

You only have to look at the cover. The grim black and white photographs of the four Church members contrasts starkly with the colourful and cheery paisley cover on the “Heyday” album. There is a similar contrast with the music inside the cover on this new LP.

Where “Heyday” was ornate, layered with countless guitar overdubs, brass and strings and produced with Peter (New Gold Dream) Walsh’s light touch, “Starfish” presents a bare, almost live-sounding Church.

With the production guidance of Americans Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel, the Church sound more rocky and less jangly, with rarely more than the standard vocal/2 guitars/bass/drums heard at any one time in the slightly thin-sounding mix.

Despite the suggestions that the band might go for the commercial jugular and make a hit album this time, “Starfish” begins quite disarmingly with the stop-start jerkiness of “Destination” before settling down with the graceful first single “Milky Way” with its elegant fade-out.

The remainder of side one feels just a little underheated, recalling “Seance” with its succession of long, slowish tracks.

For a band that can kick it so well live the pace here is surprisingly leisurely.

But on side two the Church suddenly relax, with Marty’s “Spark” ignited by a rocked-up treatment that borders on thrash.

Two killer tracks, firstly “Antenna” then second single “Reptile” follow. “Antenna” swings along in its waltz time beat with three strong chord motifs while “Reptile” powers along on a brutal riff from Marty with Peter Koppes adding the right counterpoint notes. This is the Church at their best--intertwining guitar and melody lines on a strong rhythmic base.

After that peak the album winds down with Peter’s solo song “A New Season” and Steve’s “Hotel Womb,” songs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on their respective solo records.

It has been suggested that the Church might have been spending too much time on their solo albums and that the next band album would suffer, but overall “Starfish” is a solid and consistent effort. It may fall just short of “Heyday” and “The Blurred Crusade,” but “Starfish” will still be hard to beat as Album Of The Year.

Ultimately though, one’s reaction to this LP will depend on whether you prefer your Church in colour or black and white.

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Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

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