The Best of the Radio Songs
by The Church


The Church hold their own place in popular Australian music. They aren't a cult band, but you probably don't realise how many songs you actually know until you listen to this album right through. Apart from 'Under The Milky Way', which you know you know. I remember when it was released and I still get shivers every time I hear those opening acoustic chords. It really was an unavoidable monster hit, possibly why the band have often dismissed the song (though I see they've embraced it in recent times). 'Ripple', 'The Unguarded Moment', '[Metropolis]', 'Reptile'; all classic Australian singles that you won't hear on commercial radio, while they're rehashing every other moment of popular music of the last 40 years. And yet that's exactly what this album is, an album of radio songs; it even says so in the title, so there's no confusion. Confusing? That's kind of my point.

I'd put these guys on the same tram-line as The Triffids, The Go-Betweens, Ed Kuepper maybe. Those are the obvious comparisons, there are others that just aren't coming to my mind. Bands that are both beloved and overlooked at the same time. The Dead Salesmen and The Beautiful Few, there ya go. The Church were a revelation at a point in the 80's we were swamped by synth-pop, pub rock or horrible easy-listening ballads. There were other great original bands that were popular, don't get me wrong, not going on the everything-in-the-80's-sucked wagon, but The Church sounded pretty different to a kid in the suburbs. The best band ever to come out of Canberra; so good I've always thought they were from Brisbane.

Do I like it? Shit yeah. And not as a retro nostalgia trip. There's still a bunch of songs on here that I didn't know, new discoveries to be made. The most recent track is from 2009's Untitled #23. These are classic pop songs, great hooks with Steve Kilbey's distinctive vocals and poetry-as-lyrics. And Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes, those guitars, they shimmer! Easy to listen to without being easy-listening (never fear, never that). If you want to look hip and music geek knowledgeable, you could do worse than name-dropping The Church. If you like this collection, go hunt out the stuff that never made the radio. They've been releasing albums for exactly thirty years, so that should give you completists a bit to work with. Yeah I see you, don't pretend you aren't getting all jittery.

4.5 / 5 Stars