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The Church deliver a masterpiece

The Church

The Church - Forget Yourself
(Cooking Vinyl)
Reviewed: April 29, 2004

Review by Brad Walseth

If I had to describe the indescribable, I'd say The Church's new album Forget Yourself is a huge, flowing, crystalline starburst of hypnotic, psychedelic art rock, but even that description fails to do this wonderful recent release justice. The songs within run through a widely diverse range - from the powerful opener "Sealine" - which rages at you like a howling storm from the sea, to the gentle "Maya" - one of the prettiest, delicate and most sublime snowflake/wildflower of a song you'll ever hear. Throughout, the positive energy emitted through the speakers is palpable, and there are some very interesting surprises to boot: the "Revolver"-era Beatles influence on "Song in Space;" Marty Willson-Piper's boldly frantic and in-your-face gypsy guitar on "The Theatre and It's Double;" the almost Strokes-NYC sound of his "See Your Lights,"- which finds The Church rocking out like never before; the beautiful Beach Boy vocal intro to the jangling, catchy "Telepath;" Peter Koppes' lovely love song "Appalatia;" and singer Steve Kilbey's "pitch-shifted" vocals on "Reversal" - that show Cher how it should have been done; all these are combined with the signature swirling guitars, beautifully arcane and melancholy lyrics and searching vocals, and stellar bass and drums to make for a sonic experience like none other.
The experience gained from playing together for many years is put to maximum use here - and is an example to their younger peers that a band can continually learn and grow as they make their way through a lifetime. Kilbey's bass lines percolate and undulate like a boiling stream of volcanic lava under the whirling atmospheric stratum engendered by Koppes and Willson-Piper - whose wide array of colorful, interwoven tones and timbres are displayed prominently and to pleasing harmonic effect in the almost symphonic soundscapes. Drummer Tim Powles completes the framework of the band, and his empathetic rhythms provide the final touches to this strong set: light as gentle rain on a cymbal when needed, skeleton rattling intensity when necessary (as in the harrowing "Lie Low"). This is a band that seems to be building in momentum - and after some challenges in years past - seems to have reemerged focused and reenergized.
Perhaps the ultimate declaration is the album closer - "Summer" - where Kilbey's velveteen voice caresses in a spoken word interlude, and the band's ebullience ascends, elevates and transforms into the white light and heat of transcendence, while the sun slowly sets and we drift away through space and time and memory on the wind and the receding waves. As an exploration into the joyful - and at times fearful - art of sound, or simply as the party album of the year for the metaphysically-bent - Forget Yourself succeeds on both and all counts and ultimately provides a powerful musical affirmation of the miracle of living, while expressing sincere thanks for life's great gifts. Let the sleepers awake!

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