Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Church's Late-Period, Psych-Rock Masterpiece

By Evan Rytlewski
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That The Church still have great albums in them isn't a surprise; they've already proven themselves one of the few bands unblemished by age. Each year the veteran rock band gets older, grayer, farther removed from their '80s stardom and ostensibly more out of touch with contemporary music, yet their output remains as vital as ever. But even coming on the heels of so many proud late period releases, their latest, Untitled #23, is a stunner, an album as assured, cohesive and downright unforgettable as any they've recorded. 

Unlike the agreeable hodgepodge of The Church's other recent releases, Untitled #23 unfolds as one fey, free-form dream, playing like a lost guitar-pop album from the '80s that a label might have deemed too psychedelic for commercial release. The hooks are there, but they're slippery and effusive, bleeding over these songs like runny watercolor paints, leaving behind an ethereal trail of haze and intrigue. Only a few moments break the chimerical mood. With its terse, resounding guitar riff, "Space Saviour" is actually among the least spacey tracks on the album, while the searing yet gorgeous "Anchorage" defiantly pushes against the grain, but otherwise these songs march in lock step, under the influence of the same, ambrosial spell.

In the panthenon of great psychedlic rock albums, Untitled #23 sits proudly alongside Dark Side of the Moon.

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