Published on April 11th, 2019

The Church

If you’ve done like I have up until now and mostly slept on the music of The Church, fear not: They’ve come to save your soul, as they have mine. Typing in the dim light of the kitchen, avoiding glances at a sink full of mocking, unwashed dishes, whiskey in one hand, coffee in the other, taunted by procrastination and myriad deadlines to be met, I am fiercely and jarringly saved.

This personal awakening began with the album that was first picked up on America’s radar in the late ’80s, “Starfish.” In the best-known song, the luminous “Under the Milky Way,” and nine more tracks, the music projects a dreamlike state into the waking world. The words are spare but powerful, and give the warm intricacies of the instruments extra life while taking time to breathe in the pockets of sound. Frontman Steve Kilbey’s lyrics are nearly as beautiful and haunting on the page as they are floating through speakers. His voice is somber, and a bit daunting, his delivery unequivocally cool.

Front to back, “Starfish” is a masterpiece. As it closes, I regain reality, close my eyes, take a grounding breath, and prepare myself for the possible disappointment of their most recent 2017 album. As a student of classic dad-rock, I’m no stranger to the lemons that are born from heroes of times past. I exhale, and press play on “Another Century,” track one of “Man Woman Life Death Infinity.” Within fifteen seconds, I’m immersed. By the closer, “In Your Fog,” I’m brought to tears.

In an interview with Australian site Amnplify, Kilbey explained the method behind The Church’s timelessness: “[W]e’re classicists. If you’re a classicist and you always make statues of Greek gods or paint paintings like Da Vinci or Botticelli, or if you’re in rock and roll and you make music that references The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan, Bowie, the very best stuff, that’s what you’re aiming for; to make music that has all of those qualities.” 

Amen. If you need me, you can find me kneeling and healing at the altar of The Church.

The Church’s “Starfish 30th Anniversary Tour” is 7pm April 22 at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. ~ Freddie Zandt

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