Spirit Level
by Marty Willson-Piper


I hope Marty Willson-Piper belongs to a Frequent Flyer program. One of the busiest men in music, Willson-Piper somehow finds time to be involved in Australia's The Church and England's All About Eve—and still manages to record his own album in Sweden, where he lives. Most would find all these projects in their various parts of the globe a prelude to a break-down, but if this latest album, Spirit Level, is any indication, Willson-Piper thrives on chaos. That's not to imply that the album is chaotic. On the whole, Spirit Level is richly introspective. The most electric effort is the single, "Luscious Ghost," which would sound right at home on any Church album. My favorite is the bittersweet, "I Can't Cry," but also check out "Even Though You Are My Friend" (love that slide guitar!), "Turn Away To The Stars" and "Kiss You To Death." Nice one, mate!

Third solo effort from the moonlighting Church-man is another subdued, reflective, and carefully played set of spare, often acoustic nouveau-pop nuggets. Alternative programmers should pay attention to "Kiss You To Death," "I Can't Cry," and "Turn Away To The Stars," but the album's high points lie in the pristine acoustic guitars of "Will I Start To Bleed" and the sharp, tense rock of "Luscious Ghost."

Spirit Level

Halfway through the ex-Church member's ethereal album opener, 'I Can't Cry', you are waiting for something to happen, something exciting. Then suddenly it's over and you realise that the prettified Rickenbacker swirls are an end in themselves.

In Willson-Piper we have an unrepentant exponent of floral bedsit music. He lovingly evokes the more dazed passages of the Stones and Beatles' drugged divestments of the mid-'60s, indeed seems to idealise them, which is dangerous and rather dull.

There's a certain charm to the puritan strains of 'Kiss You To Death', with its strings 'n' things, but with Piper's third solo LP his tunnel-vision has become too personal and way too claustrophobic.

2 out of 5