After Everything Now This
by The Church
REVIEWS and COMMENTS
The Church will never match its masterful 1988 album "Starfish," which was full of perfect pop-rock, including "Under the Milky Way," one of the finest pop songs of the '80s. So there's no use comparing. The band has made great records since, from the sprawlingly desolate "Priest = Aura" to the epically prog-rock "Sometime Anywhere." For its 15th album, the Church abandons its eight-minute experimentations and returns to five-minute rock songs, which is perhaps why the new album is called "After Everything Now This." Still, it's easy to see why the Church isn't on a major label anymore. This sounds a lot like an old Church record, with Steve Kilbey's brooding baritone vocals and the band's sometimes plodding melodicism. But that's why it's so good.
Even though the band's leaders, Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper, have been at this for 20 years, they are still able to come up with two of their prettiest songs yet, "Song for the Asking" and the almost ambient "Invisible."
This is pretty much a straight-ahead pop record; very easy to listen to, not overly fast or aggressive, yet not excessively sappy or slow moving. After recording and touring for over two decades, this Aussie band can still produce a set of tunes that will leave a fine taste on anyone's palate. From the psychedelic "Reprieve" to many Pink Floyd-inspired moments, variety reigns. Even shoegazer enthusiasts will be charmed with the odd effects-laden washes of sound and layers upon layers of guitars. Steven Kilbey's vocals give an overall mellow edge to the disc, while the odd bar or two of the Cure creeps in for good measure. Beautifully catchy, and touchingly poignant, the slower tunes, such as "The Awful Ache," round out the disc perfectly. The more you listen to this one, the better it becomes.
Starting with 1990's Gold Afternoon Fix, the mildly disappointing follow-up to their long-deserved commercial breakthrough (1988's slick-and-streamlined Starfish), these Aussies haven't changed a bit, continuing to forsake quick, jangly pop for slow, pretentious bloat*. And they've been fantastic all the while. So what if the majority of Church albums since 1992's Priest=Aura, a flat-out bizarre, trippy effort, have sounded essentially the same?** The dense atmosphere the quartet creates continues to cast a spell. Singer/bassist Steve Kilbey conjures visions of far-off galaxies or some such mumbo jumbo; it's difficult to tell exactly what the guys are talking about (or smoking), but their intoxicating, chiming melodies have never faltered. After Everything, Now This begins, of course, with a slow, hypnotic Kilbey soundscape ("Numbers"), seques into the catchy "After Everything" and later features "Chromium", guitarist Marty Willson-Piper's best song since Gold Afternoon Fix's "Russian Autumn Heart". Though it appears the band is forever uninterested in penning great singles like Starfish's "Under the Milky Way" and "Reptile" and Gold Afternoon Fix's "Metropolis", it hardly matters. Anachronism never sounded so good.
Some clarifications posted by Matt Hickey to Hotel Womb:
* I guess what I meant by this was that just because it's pretentious and bloated in theory doesn't make it inherently bad in result; it's like a movie that's ambitious and maybe even kind of silly yet is well-done and entertaining. Like Gladiator, for example. In some ways, it's pretty ridiculous, yet I have to admit I was entertained. See Priest = Aura. I find it rather silly in spots, but I love it all the same. Sure, I'd still like to see them pen another "Unguarded Moment," but just because they don't doesn't mean I don't enjoy what I hear overall or want them stuck in '80s jangle mode.
** I meant far less streamlined than Starfish; less slick (which is fine) yet occasionally overlong and dull in spots. The records seem almost formulaic IN STRUCTURE not in sound. When I said they sounded essentially the same, I wasn't speaking about sonics, more about structure.
Record Of The Week
Let us pray.
We thank thee for the many years you have kept The Church together (22), the bounty of recordings they've produced (15 full-lengths) and the immeasurable joy they have brought us (even if we don't count the impure memories attached to the make-out hit of 1988, "Under The Milky Way").
It's truly a miracle that The Church are still delivering us from our musical trials. Great multitudes of bands that formed in 1980 have fallen to the temptations of the flesh.
But, lo, a gorgeous new Church album is manifest! Verily, a 10-song balm for our weary souls. We gratefully add it to the canon, and to its luscious, hypnotic grooves we say, "Amen."
This music is beautiful, complex and requires several listens to unlock hidden melodies barely audible on the first listen. Make no mistake; you have not heard this brand of music before. The Church tradition of consistently producing more interesting work with each album continues.
8 out of 10
Aussie psych-rockers' comeback album proves they're still relevant
Two years in the making, and six years after their last all-original offering (1996's Magician Among the Spirits), After Everything Now This continues in the footsteps of its predecessors, as the Church continue their celebration of life after the 80s with one of their best albums yet. Had After Everything Now This come out in '85 (its post-Echo & the Bunnymen production suggests that it could have), it would have rerouted their future completely. Today, it simply restates their continued relevance.
The disc is low-key, moody, ballad-laden, of course, but it has a nasty spark ("Song for the Asking") and a vicious bite ("Numbers") while the near symphonic dynamics are the band's brightest and broadest in a long time. Last time out, the Church served up an album of their all-time favorite covers (1999's A Box of Birds). In years to come, the best of this album will be turning up on someone else's.
The Church have proven to be one of Australia's most enduring and challenging bands, constantly revising and updating their sound - and their line-up. Whereas before nearly all their recordings have arisen through a series of jams and impromptu unrehearsed recording sessions, their first studio album in three years sees the band adopting a different approach to their writing and recording, giving rise to a new level of depth and maturity. 'After Everything Now This' represents a classic ride through Churchland, opening up their grandiose melodies to an ever wider array of structures and sounds to create a lush, melancholy brand of neo-psychedelia that is rich in texture and melody. Already household names in their native land, if you're looking for rock salvation then look no further than the Church.
★★★ (3 out of 4 stars)
Before guitarists began to shoe-gaze drearily or grunge greasily, there was the Church, whose atmospheric jangle borrowed as much from the Byrds as from Television. In 1980, bassist/lyricist Steve Kilbey and guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes brought forth an aggressive post-punk drone. Sixteen discs later, what that overly ethereal aesthetic has lost in pop hooks, it has gained in slow-building tension.
The smooth veneer of "The Awful Ache" and "Night Friends" is occasionally cracked by time changes. But "After Everything's" crepuscular feel is best represented on "Numbers," the elegaic "Invisible," and the title tune. While Kilbey sings obtuse lyrics about love lost and dead friends in an airy mumble, Willson-Piper and Koppes spin glistening spider webs of sound in an atmosphere of barely audible melody.
★★★½ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
With half of this album recorded in Sweden during the recording of their 1999 covers album Box of Birds and the other half assembled recently in Sydney, you might think The Church could have ended up making an album with a split personality. But strange working arrangements have become the norm for this band, apart from which their style has become so settled, so defined, so well-framed over the years, they're not about to put a foot wrong now. On the other hand, if putting out albums like this seems almost second-nature to The Church, they still have a headturning ability for a distinctive atmosphere and melody in their music.
As such, this new effort arrives with all the familiarity and freshness we've come to appreciate. Filled with all the usual devices—guitars that are in turns shimmering, spangly and chiming, slowly wheeling mellow effects, unhurried rhythms and (mostly) Steve Kilbey's slightly wounded but worldly vocals—it all ought to be predictably obvious. But these songs (Numbers comes on like a stately Cure, Invisible has a spectral, heady drift, there's Song For The Asking's speckled sublety, and so on) peek through the predictable and move in on you. Which puts this engaging album on a par with most of their albums of recent years.
Sometimes referred to as the Antipodean answer to our very own Chameleons, primarily because of their stamina, their way with a moody riff and - in the case of 'After Everything Now This' - even their oblique album titles, The Church are one of those bands who find themselves being described as "heroic" simply because they're still motoring along two decades down the line. Mind you, in those olden golden days they would have been described as "heroic" because their widescreen, yet shadowy, music would have been lapped up by fist-clenching mullet-heads in pixie boots who thought that U2 had blown their cool by daring to break massive with 'War'. Some things never change. Indeed, in spite of the vagaries of time, there is sweet serendipity in the release of this album: for The Church's early days think of The Bunnymen's 'Heaven Up Here'; for their current muse, consider moody young guns Haven.
The guitars are deadpan and driving. The vocals are dry and mysterious (The Church are avid followers of the No Lyric Sheet brigade, as is the case with most bands who've maintained a devoted following for longer than two Strokes singles). And much of 'After Everything Now This' is sumptuously-made, intensely-played rock music which, in the case of 'Night Friends' slightly over eggs the cosmic pudding, but more often than not displays a penchant for melody and tension which would shame many of the new millennium's pop pups. Young bands today. Don't know they're born, etcetera etcetera...
★★★★½ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
You'd be hard pressed to find a more succinct title for this, The Church's umpteenth studio album in 21 years. Forget Hologram Of Baal, Magician Among The Spirits and Sometime Anywhere: this is The Church of old in all their shimmery guitar glory. Recorded over three years on three continents, it plays more like a long lost best-of. Yep, the songs are that good.
Chromium despite a hook reminiscent of Afghan Whigs is so vivid it transports the listener as Kilbey [actually sung by Marty Willson-Piper] whispers each carefully chosen couplet. A real heart-sweller.
Honey-dripped harmonies drive Seen It Coming, while the atmosphere built into Invisible, Song For The Asking and Radiance remind us why we ever donned a paisley shirt.
Crisp production, imaginative arrangements and bang-on songwriting conspire to make the best Church album in a decade. Now where is that paisley shirt.
After marking time in its last two discs (Box Of Birds, which featured covers ranging from Hawkwind to Carole King, and the sprawling Hologram Of Baal), the Australian atmospherists are back with what should easily stand as their strongest effort since their strong run in the mid/late-'80s. This is a true band effort—the songs are credited to all four members—and, in the spirit of rock 'n' roll, the sum is greater than the parts.
The group's "sound" is as identifiable as ever but this time around, the songs take precedence—the first two tracks, "Numbers" and "After Everything," a soaring Church-styled ballad driven by Marty Willson-Piper's chiming rhythm guitar—being among the best. Steve Kilbey's voice carries the songs with more personality than in recent discs, even when his vocals are heavily treated (as in "Radiance," a classic Church soundscape) and Piper adds a wider variety of guitar textures (including some snarling licks in "Chromium"). But it's "Invisible," a hypnotic piece that meanders for nearly eight gorgeous minutes, that will grab longtime fans. Hushed vocals, a seductive pulse and layers of treated guitars are skillfully mixed with harmonies and sound effects (a passing train) to grand effect. If there was any doubt, the old boys still have it.
More than two decades after its inception, The Church is still making essential sounds that engulf the Aussie quartet's fans like the onset of a reliable sedative ... a welcome next chapter in the groups highly respected career.... It may have taken more than two years and three continents to make but After Everything Now This still quickens the breath and the heartbeat like a new love — something any longtime Church fanatic can tell you is just one-tenth of the band's draw. After watching Australian actors conquer this year's Golden Globe Awards, one has to wonder: is the music biz far behind?
After 1999's place-keeping covers album, Box of Birds (which neatly paid tribute to such obvious Church influences as Television, Neil Young, and John Foxx-era Ultravox, along with less apparent ones like Mott the Hoople and, yes, Hawkwind), Australia's longest-lived ether-rock quartet returns with a quietly enthralling collection of poetic, understated gems. The album starts with a pair of likely Church classics: "Numbers," a drone-pop masterpiece in which vocalist-bassist Steve Kilbey counts out an elegantly remorseful chorus ("Seven for the lucky pricks who went to heaven..."), followed by the single, "After Everything," the latest in the long line of lost-love songs the Church convey so well. Nor is the album without surprises: "The Awful Ache" time-changes in and out of a crunchy guitar break, while "Night Friends" sounds like a less misanthropic Pink Floyd. Throughout this self-produced 16th (!) album, Kilbey, guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes, and drummer Tim Powles show why they remain one of the post-punk era's most consistently satisfying bands, even if they are occasionally uncompromising to a fault (the atmospheric closing cut, "Invisible," drags on a bit long). The Church may never repeat the success of 1988's Starfish and its hit, "Under the Milky Way," but that's OK. After Everything Now This showcases a talent and sound that manages to keep maturing without ever growing old.
In a recording career with more peaks than troughs, Australian veterans The Church have reached another zenith with this, their best work since 91's 'Priest = Aura.' The signature effects, heavy guitar interplay is complex stuff, but the song is never sacrificed on the alter of virtuosity—think prog rock with pretension replaced by tunes. Frontman Steve Kilbey's literary and religious allusions are at their best opaque and the whole gels to great effect on the haunting 'The Awful Ache,' like a Gabriel García Márquez short story set to music. The sort of album you hope Radiohead will be capable of making after 22 years together. Sublime.
16th album in 21 years from Australian guitar experimental-classicists.
After mid-Eighties US success and a calmitous near break-up, The Church now persevere in almost their original line-up, a seemingly unkillable cult to the left of any commercial or critical mainstream in the new century. You can hear their '81 vintage in the way guitars are explored for their sonic potential, but they do so with less mystique than on their last of originals, '98's Hologram of Baal, maybe because they now pre-plan their once-jammed, drifting epics. They sound so session-smooth here, their maverick spark's at risk.
In the early 80s, with the UK in the grip of New Romantic fever and the music press searching around for the next big thing, the spotlight fell briefly on a group of bands who were loosely labelled 'new psychedelia'.
Soon forgotten, a cursory glance at a few of those bands — Dream Syndicate, The Three O'Clock and Australians The Church — give some indication of the influence they would later have on bands like World Party, Psychedelic Furs and even REM and Echo & The Bunnymen.
The Church have kept plugging away solidly ever since their well-received 1981 album 'Of Skins And Heart', and though never making the UK charts 'After Everything Now This' sees the original line-up continuing very much in the same vein as they did some 20 years ago.
Or, more accurately, much the same as they did 20 years ago but seemingly lacking the spark that made the likes of 'Under The Milky Way' or 'The Unguarded Moment" such delights. 'Numbers' and 'Radiance' jingle — and even jangle — in that 80s style, but sadly nothing really grabs the attention for too long.
To say that The Church have been at it for quite awhile now is a bit of an understatement. To say that it's a rare thing for a band to put out one of their best records of their career in their 22nd year of existence is also a bit of an understatement. However, with After Everything Now This, the Church have done just that—put together a record that handily bests anything that they've put out in the last 15 years, and can stand head and shoulders against their best efforts of the '80s.
Few bands whose stars ascended in the '80s are making their best work now, but the Church is on a definite roll. Via Thirsty Ear in the U.S. and Cooking Vinyl in other territories, the Church brought out in 1999 a wonderfully inventive covers collection, Box of Birds, on which the Australian quartet showcased the disparate influences—from George Harrison and Neil Young to Television and Iggy Pop—that informed its poetic, neo-psychedelic sound. (The same year also saw Under the Milky Way, a Buddha/BMG anthology titled after the band's signature song from 1988's Starfish.) Now comes an album of new material that sounds utterly contemporary even as it harks to the band's glory days. Intensely iridescent in sound and subtly abstract in emotion, After Everything Now This brims with intelligent tension and textural depth—all borne along by beautiful, beatific melody. "After Everything" soars, and "Chromium" glows; but the key track is "Radiance," a tale of a Virgin visitation that's infinitely touching in its combination of lyrical detail and silver-hued shimmer.
The Church isn't the only rock band whose sound can be characterized as "gauzy, shimmering and ethereal," but the quartet has arguably refined the use of hazy, effects-laden guitar atmospherics. The problem is that once in a while the Church supplants vivid songwriting with evocative soundscaping. The disc does contain a number of certifiable Church classics such as "Numbers," "Song for the Asking" and "Chromium," on which sinuous vocal melodies, brooding chords and luminous overtones merge to form hypnotic, ear-grabbing music. And the gentle, almost incandescent "After Everything" ranks with the band's most beautiful creations. But several songs drift by with the vaporous fluffiness of fog.
With a healthy indifference to the hipness barometer, Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes and Marty Wilson Piper of the Church have been exploring a dreamy, intricately embroidered corner of guitar rock for over twenty years now - non-stop, that is. And though the fickle gods of rock justice have not been kind to the band, their efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Tom Yorke of Radiohead recently called the Church his "musical roadmap." Listening to Ok Computer's crystalline, spaced out "Subterranean Homesick Alien" for example, you can hear what he means. Too, there is a rabid worldwide fan base that continues to buy anything the band or its members put out, thus a prospering multi-continental tour in support of their 13th studio record After Everything Now This, released in February. With their beautiful, spiderwebbed lullaby of a prime directive still intact, the band nonetheless demonstrates a Bowie-esque need to press onward. Thanks to drummer/producer, Tim "Spaceman" Powles, the new record radiates a disarming warmth that envelops you more deeply with each listen. AENT finds Koppes coaxing six string symphonic floods that wash over Wilson Piper's crisp flights into the ether. Kilbey, who lyrically has more to say before 6am than most songs do all day, seems thematically suspended in an out-of-body experience, peacefully aware of the bittersweet bullshit he's left behind. Live? If their last two visits in '98 and '99 are any indicator, we're in for a treat of a show. Few bands I've heard turn out the atmospheric rock with the same energy and prowess as the Church, simple as that. Amen.
★★★½ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
Few rock bands have adored and explored the orchestral vocabulary and singing ring of the electric guitar with the commitment and distinguished touch of the Church. For founding members singer-bassist Steve Kilbey and guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, the art of jangle has been a life's work: After Everything Now This is the Australian group's twelfth studio album since 1981 and true to precedent in its rippling gleam. After Everything is also a masterpiece of stealth, a quiet killer in which subtle exquisite shocks of tonal theater — the doomsday ticktock and gently abrasive fuzz in "Numbers"; the ice-water drip of the arpeggios in "Chromium" — puncture the reverb without scarring it. The seamless-dream quality of After Everything is no small accomplishment; the Church, with drummer-producer Tim Powles, made the record in studios on three continents. But in these songs of dislocation and disconnection, intoned by Kilbey in a silken-lava baritone, Koppes' and Willson-Piper's guitars are a seductive counterweight, piercing the tension with an elegantly disruptive twang in "After Everything" and the interlocking dread of airplane-like hum, breathy strum and the insistent static of a guitar pick scraped against a string in "Invisible." In fact, After Everything is virtually free of classic-rock riff ego; the electricity in the Church's wraparound shimmer is in the accumulation of sculpted detail, like the trebly shiver and spritz of backward guitar framing the bullish distorted lead in "Reprieve." It is a sound, and grace, that the Church have pursued for more than two decades, and maybe you've heard it before. But you've rarely heard it better.
In 2002 I began tracking The Church's body of work. I started with Starfish, but I couldn't help at that time feeling attracted by that beautiful disc with a beach in the front. It looked promising, but it took me two years to listen to it for the first time. I bought this one in 2004 in a bargain disc store (6 Euros = $8.50). At this moment I've also gotten the Thirsty Ear release, the promo CD, the promo EP, the Numbers single, that compilation with the alternative mix of Seen It Coming and I long to grab one day that weird Brazilian version. Needless to say that this is one of my top ten albums ever. The reason why I love AENT so much is that I've spent all my life looking for it without knowing it could exist. Thanks Steve, Marty, Peter and Tim for making it possible.
Another fine album.
Not overly spectacular, but, like with last album, Hologram of Baal, they have some hits and misses. When they HIT though, they hit HARD!
Numbers is probably my favorite song here. It's resonant, and it rocks...the delivery of this song is both playful and urgent and is great to experience. Actually, it's the only real ROCKER here!
After Everything and The Awful Ache are lovely slower tunes that evoke the cover...barren yet hopeful; regretful yet not full of despair...though After Everything is a tearful track thanks to the chorus.
Chromium is Marty getting to shine and have a great time and it shows. Glad they still play this one live as I now enjoy it that much more after seeing Marty have fun with it live!
The album's true masterpiece is Radiance.
Forget UTMW...THIS is the Church's TRUE masterpiece.
Somber, yet glorious, this track is one of those songs that artists that routinely sell MILLIONS of records can only DREAM of writing. But then, they are not The Church...
This is my favorite Church track of all time, hands down. NOTHING comes close to this song for beauty and brilliance. NOTHING...
Night Friends is WAY better when remixed on Parallel Universe as Earthfriend(Version). That track on PU rocks so much more than this version does!
Invisible tries to, and comes off as, experimental to me. But you cannot deny Kilbey's words here...fascinating and lovely, very stark and naked. It is a truly astounding track that is a fitting closer to a mostly somber and reflective album that shows that The Church are not content to rest on their past achievements.
To me it's the prelude album heralding their return to greatness that was to come with Forget Yourself.
This was my very first Church album and boy, what an album to get hooked on! I was working in a stereo store back in 2002 and saw the Milky Way video and my jaw hit the ground. On my break, I went to the good CD store and saw After Everything and a best of CD. For some reason I thought "I really ought to get the album, I'm sure that the best of CD will always be available..." And I made the right decision. This CD saw me through some of the toughest times of my lonely 21 years and made me stronger in the end. If it wasn't for "Night Friends" I don't know where I would be today.
Oh my this album is wonderful. The band just keep getting better. Maybe they show their calmer side on this album. The opener "Numbers" is a real treat. The album grows and it doesn't have a track that are bad. My favorites are "Numbers," "After Everything," "Song For The Asking," "Radiance" and "Night Friends." Hey guys, I love you.
perfect. timeless. a feeling that was otherwise impossible. i've been an american listener for 20 yrs. this album is so beautiful that i could cry. it's sad. after all of this time, i still can't listen enough.