Steve Kilbey

The Slow Crack

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Expanded for American release by the inclusion of a few tracks from the Transaction and Remindlessness efforts, The Slow Crack, which originally surfaced in 1987, finds Kilbey agreeably filling in the time between the Church's Heyday and Starfish albums. There are actually fun hints of the latter album here and there: the mandolin on "Fireman" (there's also some sax) is a definite giveaway, considering the cameo turn David Lindley did on "Antenna." In general, The Slow Crack lives up to its solo nature; it's less full and energetic than the Church (Kilbey plays everything himself and serves up some acoustic numbers here and there), but no less interesting. Certainly fans of Kilbey's sometimes-cryptic lyrical imagery and his sighing, melancholic voice (and accompanying melodies) won't complain. When Kilbey more self-consciously stretches, the results are often intriguing, such as the slightly forbidding, cool "Ariel Songs." Then again, "Surrealist Woman Blues," though it avoids completely being a formal exercise thanks to its woozy chorus, doesn't really do much more than pretend it's a late-night bar somewhere. Of the extra tracks, "Transaction" itself is the best, a smart, slyly snaky effort that would have easily made for a great Church number and sounds just fine on its own; Kilbey's reliance on indifferent drum programming instead of a real drummer is the one real flaw. His Hex partner, Donette Thayer, contributes swan guitar, making for a wonderful concluding solo. "Like a Ghost" is another newer beauty, just persistent enough in its synth/rhythm box drive to suggest Kilbey's trademark drama while not actually sounding like a typical Church song at all, while "Song of Solomon" takes an even more sweeping, passionate path (this time with guitars). Best title of the bunch: "A Favourite Pack of Lies."

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