Cooking Vinyl / Uploader, 2006
also by The Church:
see also... All About Eve
Prolific Aussie alternative rockers The Church have been ploughing their own furrow for a generation, but in the UK they've never been anything bigger than "cult". To those in the know, a new album from such fluent songwriters as these is always a safe bet, and "Uninvited Like the Clouds" indeed meets expectations. Though it doesn't exceed them in the way that their strong and vital previous two albums, "After Everything Now This" and "Forget Yourself" did.
The droning opener "Block" confirms they're back, and that they're just the same shape and size as ever. With Steve Kilbey's one-note sardonic vocals and opaque free-association wordplay, and sneering flourishes from guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, it's comfortable but leans towards Church-by-numbers. The upbeat jangle-pop of "Unified Field", the mandolin-adorned "Easy" and the edgy "Untoward" is the kind of stuff that they've been doing for a quarter of a century, and it still sounds fresh. The token Marty-voiced track "She'll Come Back For You Tomorrow" is typically catchy, but it's no "Chromium". "Day 5" occupies the spacious chilled ballad slot (e.g. "Radiance") assertively. While some of their inspiration slips on tracks like "Space Needle" and "Overview", the album still puts the recent efforts of 80s indie contemporaries (ahem, New Order) to shame.
It's an album that takes a while to really warm to, especially since the more interesting material is placed in the second half. The complex "Pure Chance" shows their strengths for rich proggy productions matches their flair at tunewriting. As does the dense "Never Before" which has a great momentum to justify its fat keyboard-puffed sound. The casual spiky rhythms give "Real Toggle Action" an interesting modern flavour, and the pulsing accordions of "Song to Go" are another innovative touch.
I'd put it alongside "Hologram of Baal" as one of the less vital albums in their catalogue, but still far from a turkey.
June 27, 2006