The Church

Further/Deeper

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The Church continue their never-ending exploration of inner space on 2014's Further/Deeper, the Australian group's first album in five years, and an impressive return to duty after the band's productive run in the 2000s. Taking a few years to rest and recharge seems to have worked out very well for the Church; this album doesn't find the band exploring much in the way of new and unchartered territory, but it finds them embracing their trademark version of psychedelia -- clean but misty, like the calm eye of the aural hurricane as the waves of guitar and keys swirl about -- with a welcome sense of vigor and focus. Ranging from the sunny and welcoming "Laurel Canyon" to the beautifully ominous "Globe Spinning" and a grand-scale drift down a river of jangle on "Miami," Further/Deeper sounds like the Church in prime form, all the more impressive given the absence of longtime guitarist Marty-Wilson Piper. Ian Haug (formerly of Powderfinger) takes Marty's place in the lineup here, and he has merged seamlessly with the ensemble, generating -- along with Peter Koppes -- layers of soaring, chiming guitar that have been organized to gorgeous effect in the studio by producer timEbandit Powles and a small army of mixers. Anyone hoping for a radio-ready pop tune in the manner of "Under the Milky Way" may be a bit disappointed, but otherwise Further/Deeper is a splendid example of what the Church have been doing so well since the mid-'80s, and the polished lysergic fireworks on this album connect as well as anything the band has released since the '90s.

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