Thursday, April 23, 2015

Album Review: The Church - Starfish

The Church are an Australian band who have been on the go since 1980, releasing 25 albums.  Their fifth album Starfish, released in 1988 opens with the slow, pulsing, moody grind of Destination.  The clean, liquid duelling guitars of Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper rise and fall in intensity throughout the song, gradually building up unresolved tension while Steve Kilbey croons over it.  There’s unquestionably a whiff of the eighties off the album, it plays out like a mixture of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Psychedelic Furs and The Smiths overlaid with a very eighties production.  This is exemplified by Under The Milky Way, possibly the best song on the album, which has a catchy melody and some exquisite guitar touches.  It starts with an acoustic, Smiths-like guitar progression before developing into a lush widescreen melody.

After that, the rest of the album struggles to measure up, some tracks like Spark have a very dated sound, sounding like a long lost theme song for a John Hughes movie.  But the songwriting is undeniably strong, highlights include the slow-burning Lost, a little like Lou Reed and the Commotions or Reed's Berlin updated for the eighties, the insistent, measured strum of Antenna, and Lloyd Cole was surely taking notes from the likes of A New Season and Hotel Womb for his first solo album.  On the other hand, North, South, East and West is one of the more anthemic tracks here, taking a Smiths guitar line and writing it large in the sky.