The Church

Magician Among the Spirits

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AllMusic Review by Tom Schulte

The Church initiate their aspiring parishioners into a haunted cathedral of delicate beauty (like stained glass) and lofty, vaulted poetry. The aptly named opener "Welcome" ushers in a panoply of living and dead names, both famous and obscure, before announcing "you're like astronomy/you see everything, astronomy a part of me," and then descends into sparse, Bauhaus-like creepiness. There is a fascinating connection between the Gothic to Baroque philosophies of architecture and worldview and what the Church is saying, lyrically, here. That is, there is infinity both inside and outside and infinite connections between everything in between (inviting all to be welcome). This theme can be picked up elsewhere in their invocation of gateways ("Lady Boy"), multiple lives ("Why Don't You Love Me?"), and universality ("Could Be Anyone"). Beside the textual depth that resides here, what cannot be overlooked is that the Church fastens this lyrical art to a solid wall of entirely accessible pop and ear-catching experimental guitar. For instance, "Comedown" is a beautiful example of symphonic guitar pop that is more "bittersweet" than anything by the Verve and contains majestic and poignant metaphors (nearly apocalyptic) in its images of monuments, flotsam, and ominous clouds. An example of their art rock prowess that will sound great next to your most over-the-top ELP or Curved Air cuts is "Grandiose," their instrumental brew of violin, guitars, and closely miked drums. The Church's Magician is that rare treasure that is an album full of songs both to hum and ponder.

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