Masters of New Wave jangle, Australian band The Church are firmly rooted in classic guitar pop, but inspired by the punk movement, essentially making the band outsiders in both arenas, simultaneously growing more sprawling and more classicist as they progressed.
Main singer/bassist Steve Kilbey does go a bit goofy sometimes with his lyrics, venturing off into quasi-mysticism and esoteric / cryptic incoherence. Guitarist Marty Willson-Piper - who handles lead vocals on occasion - doesn't help much. But both guys have great voices, and the guitar landscapes they construct are good enough to overlook such silliness.
Whilst The Church's early stuff is either a little ahead of its time, or way too late, their later stuff is timeless. They've released a lot of albums, of which I have many, but not all. And the individual members have released plenty of solo albums and offshoots too, of which I have none.
Of Skins and Heart
has been messed around with quite a bit since its original Australian release as a 9-track album, as it was released in the States with a different running order and about half of the same songs. Then it was later re-released in the States as a 12-track album, containing all the songs from the original Australian release plus three extra songs derived from the initial American version. This review is for the original Australian release on Parlophone ...
The production is unmistakably early-80's New Wave, yet the playing is like a faster Byrds record from the late-60's - the guitars have that jangle, with solos that are kind of embarrassingly wanky. Except good.
It's a little weird to think these guys sounded this good and perfected on their first album. The sequencing of the first three songs, and the shockingly good performances of the tunes, does perhaps set the bar a little too high for the rest of the album, but there aren't really any bad songs.
by Reviewer: Austin
(blogging at Austin's Page