Forget Yourself
by The Church


"Forget Yourself," the 17th record from Sydney, Australia's the Church, causes a listener to do just that. One minute, the swirling soundscapes driven by rippling acoustic guitars are just so much inoffensive background music in the manner of Afghan Whigs and Pink Floyd. The next minute, though, Steve Kilbey and band offer a sonic slap upside the head by way of demanding attention.

Kilbey & Co. may have appeared briefly on American radar with songs including "Under the Milky Way" and "Reptile," but, Down Under, they've worked steadily, crafting an impressive catalog of moody, mellifluous pop-rock. "Forget Yourself" continues that tradition.

The Church
Forget Yourself (Cooking Vinyl)
8 out of 10

Aussie legends' erm, 17th album

The Church were a bunch of early-'80s Sydney psych-obsessives whose second album 'The Blurred Crusade' is, no doubt, fondly remembered at Syd Barrett conventions to this day. Unnerving then, to discover that they've continued their orbit ever since, spanning drug busts, internal squabbles, and the recording of a none-more-Tap 80-minutes jam entitled 'Bastard Universe Stages 1-6'. Which brings us to this. And guess what? It's brilliant. Recorded at their own Spacejunk Studios in an effort to conjure up their old lysergic spell, it creaks with class. 'See Your Lights' finds Steve Kilbey murmuring like he's just woken up from a 15-year laudanum coma, while Marty Willson-Piper's 12 strings still sound like they're beaned from a Byronic lair in Alpha Centauri. Space-rock odysseys don't get much woozier.

Full Review

The Church deliver a masterpiece

If I had to describe the indescribable, I'd say The Church's new album Forget Yourself is a huge, flowing, crystalline starburst of hypnotic, psychedelic art rock, but even that description fails to do this wonderful recent release justice.

★★★☆☆ (3 stars out of 5)

Graceful 16th album from Oz veterans

Kept alive by loyal Internet-rallied fans, guitarist Marty Willson-Pipers work ethic and perhaps even a dab of Donnie Darko magic - its soundtrack featured the bands lone US hit, 1988's shimmering "Under The Milky Way" - The Church are, against all odds, still a dreamily appealing proposition. Led, as ever, by the lusciously intimate vocals of Steve Kilbey, they're still essentially serving up an Antipodean franchise of Echo and the Bunnymen's sweeping neo-psychedelia. And while this albums best moments - confidently dramatic opener "Sealine", the shiveringly anthemic "Telepath", the sweetly elegiac "Maya" - don't equal their past glories, Sydney appears to be edging out Liverpool in the ageing-gracefully stakes.

It has been a decade since the major-label heyday of this Australian quartet, but the Church continues to thrive artistically after nearly a quarter-century at work. The group's new self-produced effort sports a grand, appropriately cathedral-like sound. It also contains the band's familiar mix of Steve Kilbey's understated vocalizing, highly impressionistic lyrics and spacey pop psychedelia that effortlessly melds the supposedly incompatible styles of such progenitors as Pink Floyd and the Beach Boys. There is a wealth of superior tracks to select from here, with "Song in Space," "Appalatia," "Don't You Fall" and "Reversal" the strongest tunes. The Church falls between the cracks of established stateside rock radio formats, and the group's melodic trippiness may elude programmers. But longtime fans will find plenty to cherish on this very atmospheric and tuneful sortie.

3.5 stars (out of ?)

The Church isn't a one-hit wonder, and this is not a comeback. "Under the Milky Way" notwithstanding, this elegant pop quartet from Sydney, Australia, has remained active since 1981, putting out one solid effort after another. The fires still burn bright on Forget Yourself, their 17th album, which cooks like a simmering pot roast, the fumes of inspiration emanating steadily but unmistakably from a meaty batch of songs. The formula has changed little since 1988's commercial breakthrough Starfish. Bassist/singer Steven Kilbey's cryptic wordplay and rich, deep voice seep through brooding, spacey textures provided by dual guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes. On "The Theatre and Its Double," Kilbey's bass rumbles menacingly, while Willson-Piper picks ripened 12-string magic behind Koppes' shimmering gauze. "Song in Space" hints at Echo & the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar" guitar line, and "Telepath" is a divine construct, with an inspired Kilbey emoting behind immaculate interplay. Just when you have them pegged, the last few tracks brim with a spare, ambient beauty, like the twinkling of the Milky Way itself. This indescribably smooth blend of precision and atmospherics is the Church's hallmark.

8.8 (out of 10)

Some bands should never change, and that certainly goes for The Church. For the last 25 years they've proved able to release skillful albums, Forget Yourself is number 17. This Australian band emerged during the post-punk era and mixed that genre with psychedelica. Those '60s influences are still present, maybe even more on this album than before. Except for the drummer, the line-up of the band is the same as on their debut album Of Skins and Heart. Most bands fade out after so many albums, often due to the lack of musical inspiration. The Church has always put the music first, regardless of its potential to hit the charts. Their only real "hit" was "Under the Milky Way," back in 1988.

Swelling reverberating guitar fuzz kicks off "Sealine". Vocalist Steve Kilbey still manages to write intangible, elusive lyrics. The song sets the tone for the rest of the album: dreamy, ethereal, psychedelic. But it never gets too slick, The Church adds an incisive, penetrating quality to almost every song. But that doesn't mean a song needs to be complicated as they show on "Song in Space". After the Beach Boys-like beginning "Telepath" evolves into one of the best compositions this band from Sydney has made in years. The song features arpeggiated guitar and the dense, atmospheric second guitar combined with Kilbey's superb lyrics and vocals make for a very fine song! "See Your Lights" is an unswerving rocker with the typical dual guitars. Note the guitar figure that separates chorus from verse. Dreamy, compelling synths open "Lay Low". The song contains off-time drumming, swirling guitars and some surprising interludes. The textured ballad "Maya" is carried out in an archetypal Church composition. The dark, poetic voice of Steve Kilbey adds a distinct quality to the song. Peter Koppes shows his skills on the gem "Appalatia", arguably one of his best songs. The laid back sound of "June" again confirms The Church's love for psychedelic songwriting. "Don't You Fall" and "I Kept Everything" remind me of The Church' mid '80s period, with heavily textured albums like Starfish and Heyday. "Nothing Seeker" even surmounts that with it's complicated arrangements, wah-wah guitar and excellent bass work. Among all these great songs "Reversal" is a bit of a disappointment, the song lacks the tension of the rest of the album. "Summer" is a song that's best heard with your headphones on or at least in quiet surroundings. The elegant piano play increases as the album draws to an end.

"Forget Yourself" gets stronger and stronger after repeated listens and this album is not only of interest for Church fans, but certainly also for those who like sophisticated alternative rock.

File Under: Things in Australia that won't kill you.
Recommended if you like: The Go-Betweens, the Chills, Lloyd Cole

If the Church's last album--2002's overlooked After Everything Now This--sounded like a song cycle of goodbyes from the veteran Sydney group, their new effort (and 17th overall) sounds like a band reinvigorated by improvisation and whimsy. Written and recorded at Sydney's Spacejunk Studios, Forget Yourself is a loose collection of songs that finds the band's meticulous compositions augmented by sonic detours and creative musical shifts. After nearly 25 years, guitarist Marty Willson-Piper is more inventive than ever, and singer Steve Kilbey's poetically potent lyrics and trademark deadpan delivery can be dazzling. From the menacing and hypnotic opener "Sealine," which finds Kilbey, like a stalker in reverse, declaring "I will not follow you to the sealine," to the hushed and churning beauty of "See Your Lights," Forget Yourself is a textured and artistic album. Elsewhere, "I Kept Everything" is a spacey gem, while "Telepath" begins with melancholy Beach Boys' harmonies and develops into a rich and layered pop song. Dark and murky in spots, soaring in others, Forget Yourself proves that after a quarter-century together, the Church have a lot more to say--and it's seldom sounded better. >>>Alex Green

Ah, the good ship Church. An enduring anomaly. So ethereal in presence and rhyme, at times so rich and sublime. But also perfectly capable of leaving their devoted audience totally mystified.

This is a wonderful and complex recording, but it may not please some fans. Steve Kilbey, Marty Willson-Piper and co. released the quite superb and measured After Everything Now This in 2002 but this album is not cut from the same cloth. It contains more of a big rock sound, with an urgency not typical of Church productions.

While no one would begrudge any artist the opportunity to vary the style(s) of music they play, The Church excel creating atmospheric tomes. Their best-known work is full of imagery, metaphor and intricately woven melodies that seem to effortlessly transport the listener into an otherworldly realm.

This album doesn't do that. It leans on the guitar pedal and crashes the cymbals. The drums thump all around. Some force replaces subtlety. It does work, as the songwriting is breathtaking, but it may leave part of their loyal following bemused.

Not withstanding this, every track reveals a catch worthy of another listen and there are many moments of magic. The opener, "Sealine", is a minor classic, all mood and intensity with Kilbey's trademark vocals breathing menace over a thumping pattern of heavy-duty strumming and big drums.

There's some lovely Latin-flavoured guitar on "The Theatre And Its Double" and it features the kind of complex arrangement unheard of from so many other acts. Perhaps the highlight is "Telepath", where harmonies melt and the wonderful interplay between guitarists' Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes comes to the fore. Early days of The Church saw less emphasis on harmonising but, of late, it's become a feature (and works again on the driving "Don't You Fall").

"Maya" is a whispered, melting gem, complete with some sweet violin, and reminiscent of some of the gorgeous ballads on After Everything Now This. Willson-Piper takes up vocal duties on the majestic "See Your Lights" and Koppes contributes a quite beautiful song called "Appalatia". Like the very best Church etchings, it takes the listener on a soaring, uplifting journey.

Even though the characteristic aura of a Church album has been replaced, it would seem that there's plenty of life left in this remarkable group. There's been a rebirth of sorts and the output hasn't diminished. I might still recommend past glories to introduce newbies to The Church, but those looking for rock with a twist should not wait to partake in this glorious and elaborate offering.

Inpress, Nov 2003

The Band has done it again, made a wonderful and enjoyable album. Maybe this one is a bit more psychedelic than "AENT". And that is not a negative statement! The album grows after every listening. Suddenly new songs pop up and blends with the others. I LOVE it and you guys I love you even more. By the way greetz from Sweden...

Australia's finest return from a three-year absence with their 17th full length (including several 2CD sets) which picks up with the same amazingly high quality as After Everything, Now This. Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes' guitar duels are as majestic as ever and the balls-grabbing opener ("Sealine") will make you immediately prick up your ears and pay attention. "Song In Space" features their wall-of-guitars sonic assault a la The Chameleons and Echo & The Bunnymen, and after 25 years, the lads can still find new ways to amaze us with such effective little flourishes as the brutal Spanish guitar solo ending "The Theatre and Its Double" the exquisite, I-never-knew-they-had-it-in-them Beach Boys' harmonies opening "Telepath."

Other Church trademarks we've come to expect and enjoy are Steven Kilbey's meaninglessly enigmatic lyrics, sung with the conviction of someone whose life depended on every word, and their signature floating, spacey ballads ("Maya," "Summer"). Like Ringo, Willson-Piper is usually afforded a song or two and with "Appalatia" he turns in a soft, easy-listening pop gem. The swaying, hook-y grooves of the atmospheric, psychedelic trilogy, "June," "Don't You Fall," and "I Kept Everything" is perhaps the closest to the band's Heyday (pun intended), and the aforementioned 7-minute closer, "Summer," is particularly a soft-cushioned landing where you can, indeed, sit back, close your eyes, drift away and Forget Yourself.

Don't go too far, though, as you won't want to miss the pleasures tucked away inside the 3-track, half-hour bonus EP. Opening with the ambient, cinematmospheric, fifteen-minute epic, "Serpent Easy," a 21st century version of The Cure's "Carnage Visors" and a classic example of a soundtrack in search of a film, the band segue into the punny, alphabetical exercise "Cantilever" [read "Can't I Leave Her?"], which sounds like a U2 outtake, complete with Kilbey's pretentious Boner posturing. The third track, "Moodertronic" is a ruminating, acoustic guitar solo (think "Fripp"ertronics on 'ludes), which reminds me of the intro to The Blurred Crusade's "Just For You" expanded to a luxurious four minutes.

Fantastic album. I bought it a few weeks ago and can't get it out of my CD player! Each time you listen to this you just pick up something new. SK is such an evocative writer. The imagery his lyrics create allow the listener to develop their own take on each song. Such as 'Lay Low' could be construed as a political song(?). Is the storm the political climate in the world today? Or is it much more personal than that?

I first got into The Church in the mid 80's when I met a bloke who'd just come back from Australia. He kept singing their songs and I was really impressed with the lyrics, so I listened to Blurred Crusade and was hooked.

This band have just evolved so much, its almost like 3 different eras.

I've just got tickets to see them in London on 2nd April. It's the first time I've ever been able to see them and I can't wait.

Let me start by saying I love the Church. I have every album, so I do not need to be converted. But this album sucks serious ass. This is their worst album by far. After 15 - 20 listens I am still bored stiff. The only song that has any interest to me is Telepath (it has a good riff). What am I missing here that all these other reviewers are getting?

I was afraid that the Church lost there inspiration in the 90's (except Priest=Aura).
But now they came up with this great album.
All I can say is

Forget Yourself can also be purchased in the US (and possibly Europe) via the Apple iTunes store but not the limited edition bonus CD (available from the spinART label based in NYC).

It's a damn fine album. Great that Steve Peter, Marty and Tim are firing on all cylinders. Another 20 years of the Church would be far more than great.

Missed the NYC 8 March show 'cause I was in the hospital. I hope it was well-received.

I've been a fan of the Church for some time now. I have enjoyed all of their records. On Forget Yourself, I found myself obsessed with "Sealine," playing it over and over before I could move on to "Song In Space." The next track that really gets me going is "Telepath," another song I tend to play over and over. I won't go on with every song on the album, but Forget yourself is awesome from beginning to end. I feel sorry for people who haven't discovered how great The Church's music and lyrics are. I guess they are just not there yet.

Just bought "Forget Yourself" the other day and being a long time fan of The Church I have to admit at first I was a little surprised. Forget Yourself is unlike any of their other albums although if you have been listening to them for years like myself you can hear stirrings of their latest in past productions. Quite frankly I think that it's one of their best efforts. It's melodic as well as having strains of psychedelia within it. This is not a commercial production. It's artistic.

Forget Yourself is a great album. It has all of those elements you love about this band, but takes it all in a new direction. You haven't heard the Church like this before - one listen to the new song "Lay Low" will prove that beyond a doubt. I have been hearing Church fans list this as their new favorite album over Priest=Aura and Starfish, which I have never heard fans do before. BTW, the US version is supposed to have a bonus disk of some sort when it comes out late January.

Daniel (Dallas, TX USA)

Haven't Heard the CD yet, as I'm waiting for it to make its arrival in stores here in the states. Speaking of which, why hasn't Forget Yourself been released here yet? I can't find it anywhere. Anyways, AENT is GREAT! Can't wait to hear Forget Yourself!

Hi! Nice to hear good feelings about the newest Church album. I am a fan of the band since Priest=Aura. I live in Finland in Europe. The album is not available here yet. I don't understand why it will be released here not until the end of January 2004. Can't wait!

Forget Yourself proves the impossible; that a band can exist for 23 years, consistently producing credible sounds without disappearing up their own backsides or tarnishing their name with transient musical whims. This album represents the veteran troupe as a unanimous agreement on ideology; the same idea we loved in 1980. Forget Yourself blends a magnetic brand of pop, crushes it with raw distortion and adds a psychedelic garnish to arrive at the definitive trademark sound that has attracted a truly global following for this seminal act. Recorded at Spacejunk and produced by Tim Powles, the whole LP is beautifully tarnished by a raw edge that contradicts the sweet harmonies and melodies. It adds credence to the notion that The Church's career is working in reverse, powered by a DIY philosophy that protects the group from outside influence and purifies the sound. But the true appeal is always in the combination of 4 fine songwriters blending their best ideas to arrive at a supreme compositional quality. Sealine's opening wall of distortion is the most epic sound I've heard this year. It literally left me dazed and prepared me for the 14 prime tunes on Forget Yourself. After the first single, Song In Space, I discovered my new favourite song, The Theatre And Its Double, which breaks down to hushed vocals and lightning finger-picking to achieve the level of quality I call 'goose bump material'. Lay Low finds The Church rolling like a well-oiled machine with Powles driving the chorus and adding some lush offbeat snare-work to the quiet moments. It's the carefully planned dynamics and variety of textures that makes this LP one of the best albums for 2003 and there's no doubt the obsessive fans will be sated, at least for the moment. Forget Yourself, rather than exhibiting the craft of an act in its twilight years, suggests that The Church have much more to offer: much, much more.

I am sure the Church live in another time and in another dimension... It is the only way one can define these musicians, if people can't figure out that MWP is one of the world's guitar greats then perhaps they better grab hold of this disk somehow, somewhere.

Song in Space is not the right title track for release as a single, and it worries me that SK can't figure that one out! (He could have tassled with the label bosses) However the song that is streets ahead of the rest for a commercial hit is Telepath.

If you're unsure about buying this new album don't hesitate.

This is The Church reborn. If you haven't followed them for a while is time to return to the fold.

Forget "Under The Milky Way," the past is gone, it was but a prelude, the band has really gelled into something greater than the sum of its parts, After Everything Now This was good, but is now just a teaser of the heights they can achieve, get ready to Forget Yourself.

This may well be the very best album of The Church. Their unique sound is here, but is recast and reinvented, it is the culmination of their refo:mation since Tim Powles joined and Peter Koppes rejoined.

This is a very cohesive album, even having its twists and turns and no song being entirely similar to the previous ones the album flows flawlessly.

Song In Space, the first single may not have been the best choice, but it gives you an idea of the looseness and energy of this album. This is The Church rocking harder than you may have heard them before. Both Marty and Peter deliver some of their best vocal efforts in a Church song ever in "See Your Lights" and "Appalatia" respectively, while Steve delivers the lyrics to the rest in a matured and experienced way.

Singling out a song out of this is almost impossible, all have something special to offer, and just as many Church albums they reveal more with further listening. A song that may have not grabbed you at first listen may become your favorite later.

Even if you're just a casual fan of The Church or are just curious about how a band has lasted for so long with many fans still fiercely loyal just go get yourself this album. Forget Yourself once and again and you'll understand.