The Church

After Everything Now This

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

More than two decades and 14 albums down the line, Australia's most persistent dream pop band releases another in a series of Church discs that at this stage are almost interchangeable. Steve Kilbey's voice floats on pillows of cloudy chords provided by the shimmering guitars of Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes. Guests provide keyboards, violin, and viola accompaniment, but they slide into the haze of the ballads and don't appreciably add to a band whose sound is so well established it seems they're afraid, or at least unwilling, to tinker with the formula. Like the gray pictures of a tranquil ocean on the album's artwork, this music gradually shifts like the tides, taking its time and setting a languid mood. Melodic but samey, the songs flow into each other, creating a relaxing, seamless work that never breaks out of its mold. That said, the musicianship is of such consistently high quality that even the most lackluster tunes are redeemed by the band's innate professionalism. Needless to say, established fans will find lots here to like; Kilbey's stream-of-consciousness lyrics may or may not mean something, and occasionally the guitars threaten to break out, as on "Chromium." That they never really do sets up a vibrant if subtle tension that redeems the overall monotony of much of this beautiful album. It's excellent music for Sunday mornings or rainy nights, but the lack of memorable songs as gripping (and rocking) as the band is capable of leaves this as a gorgeous yet slightly disappointing release from a band who seems stuck in a lovely and competent rut.

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