The Church

Seance

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The cover may have looked like something of a goth record of the era, though then again not many goths would have used pink as the dominant color of an album. On this, the band's third full album, the band consolidated the advances of Blurred Crusade well; if Seance isn't as immediately striking as the first two albums, it still has its share of winners, starting with the opening "Fly." Its string-synth touched, stripped-down arrangement almost sounded like something from the Chameleons' quieter moments, but the following "One Day" returned the Church to more familiar ringing-yet-forceful guitar territory. One very curious thing about this song and many of the others on the album has to with the drumming -- while Ploog very much remains the key credited drummer, here and on many other cuts nearly everything sounds produced by a particularly muffled drum machine. Whether or not one was used, the result is at once stiff and more than a little underwhelming, making what should be stronger songs sound more run of the mill than they are. Even the otherwise excellent remastering of the early catalog when the albums were reissued on Arista can't save some of the problems. Aside from this major flaw, Séance keeps at the understated guitar groove that the Church rapidly made its own, containing marvelous songs like "Disappear?" and the nicely paced "Electric Lash." Experimenting with keyboards more provides some nice results, as the Kilbey-and-synth introduction to the lovely "It's No Reason" shows. Meanwhile, the interplay between Willson-Piper, Koppes, and Kilbey on their respective instruments remains strong, with many noted strong points: the dramatic, tense build of "Travel By Thought," the low-key combination on "Electric" bursting into keyboard-touched life on its choruses, and the quick, punchy "Dropping Names."

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