Starfish by The Church

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Starfish by The Church
Starfish by The Church

Album Released: 1988

Starfish ::: Artwork

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2.Under The Milky Way4:58
3.Blood Money4:25
5.North South East And West4:49
9.A New Season2:57
10.Hotel Womb5:40


Every band worth bothering with has released that one album that's unquestionably their peak, that even non-fans can be expected to enjoy, and The Church's is Starfish.

Recorded in L.A. with Waddy Wachtel producing, some hardcore fans might have cried sell-out, but then The Church were never that raw to begin with.

Wachtel slicks up their hooks in all the right ways, making this their breakthrough in America. The A-minor ballad "Under the Milky Way" stood out on a 1988 Top 40 cluttered with dreadful overproduced electro-pop / pseudo-soul and lite-metal power ballads, like a beacon through fog, with its shimmering crystalline sound of a real acoustic guitar, and understated smoky vocals.

That a band as commercial-sounding as The Church were an inexplicable anomaly on the charts in 1988 just goes to show how mindlessly conservative radio was back in the dreary 80's.

Anyway, all the songs found herein are exceptionally strong, bolstered by The Church's best-ever melodies and hooks. In addition to the typically excellent Kilbey songs (especially the followup single, the snaky "Reptile"), there's a pleasant ditty from Koppes that survives his shaky attempt at singing lead, and - the real bonus - Willson-Piper's Anglo-pop "Spark", that with eyes closed I might've mistaken for a mid-60's British Invasion classic.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Starfish is the big budget home run epic that Seance promised.

Man, The Church really know how to start a record - "Destination" is a good manifesto and a spectacular opening for this album. It builds and builds until it finally explodes into a sweeping monster.

Maybe it's the bigger budget, maybe it's the vintage late-80's stadium rock production (which, surprisingly, doesn't hinder the record at all), maybe it's the stepped-up roles of Willson-Piper and Koppes. Because really, the only thing most Church fans will recognize on this album is Kilbey's low breathy baritone.

Otherwise, these songs build up, break down, morph, and ultimately end up somewhere entirely different from where they began. With manic songs like Pipers' and Koppes' respective contributions "Spark" and "A New Season", along with Kilbey's "Reptile", Starfish sounds like The Church's impenetrable prog album. But the melodies here are consistently the band's strongest and catchiest set ever, as evidenced by Kilbey's gorgeous ballad "Under the Milky Way", which was a worldwide hit in late 1988.

The band would never again sound as potent and convincing as they do here - every song has a killer melody with a lush, layered, well-thought-out production to match.

Starfish is one of those rare hit albums that truly deserved the attention it received, it's a highwater mark for the band, one which unfortunately they'd never attain again.

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by Reviewer: Austin