The Blurred Crusade
is as good and unique as Of Skins and Heart
, though the latter essentially felt like the band had maybe rehearsed it too much, like they knew exactly what to do every second, and so banged out the songs with a sort of high-strung rapidity.
With the first track on this the band's second album, "Almost With You", they instantly come across as more relaxed and comfortable, which does wonders for their already subtle layered sound. And because they don't try to beat anybody over the head with a guitar solo or riff, the songs feel more complete somehow.
The acoustic guitar solo on "Almost With You" is a good indicator of how The Church have progressed ... the material here is allowed to build and develop, such that the catchiest riffs might not appear until a minute and a half in.
It's on this album that Kilbey starts directing his lyrical focus on those mystical muses that don't make sense to anyone except him, shifting away from the first album's obsession with isolation and an outsider's point-of-view. Willson-Piper's first lead vocal on a Church track also appears here, and it's a great one - "Field of Mars" is a lovelorn space traveler's soundtrack.
And really, the entire album is Willson-Piper and Koppe's show, because even though there are virtually no instances of dissonance or distortion, this is a guitar workout of a record (though only the epic "You Took" comes close to being a 'guitar workout' in the traditional sense). The layers on tracks like "In Your Eyes" are deep and fascinating - strummy, folky, riffy goodness - and while some songs do go on a bit, there isn't anything bad here.
Overall, The Blurred Crusade
is an improvement over the first album.Rated:
by Reviewer: Austin
(blogging at Austin's Page