Review Summary: This album is everything modern rock should be.
Australian alt-rockers The Church broke onto the scene in 1988, thanks mostly to their radio hit "Under the Milky Way", which the younger folk may recognize from the Donnie Darko movie. Yet, on an album where you had 10 great songs, and it only had 10 songs in total, was the mainstream quick to overlook a great band, and more particularly, a great album?
There really isn't much to dislike about Starfish. Its catchy enough to appeal to pop fans, yet artsy and imaginative enough to appeal to the thinking man. The lead single "Under the Milky Way" is an 80s classic which should appeal across generation lines. The same goes for the catchy but overlooked second single "Destination", which serves as the opening track. "North, South, East, and West" is another track that is very easy to get hooked into, and should provide lotsa replay like the other said tracks.
HOWEVER, perhaps the best part of the album aren't the songs you like right away, but the songs you don't. Sometimes you'll buy a new album, and find a song or two you don't like at first, but then they grow on you. In the case of Starfish, that rule may apply to the majority of the album. If you can be patient and accept that not every song is going to be as instantly appealing as 'Milky Way', then after just a few listens, you'll realize you have a masterpiece on your hands!
Of course the ultimate payoff comes in the form of the cathartic closing track "Hotel Womb". The meaning of the song is open to interpretation, but poetic lyrics abound about a man faced with a frightening world who wishes he could just be back in the womb he was born into, where it's safe.
Again, there's not much on this album to NOT like. The entire album has a rather consistent sound of alterna-pop meets space rock. There is some rather imaginative guitar work; not anything to impress the Megadeth crowd, but stuff that's just interesting. The vocals-------lead singer Steve Kilbey just nails it every time. Of course, he uses a good bit of reverb, so it's not like he's singing raw, but the point remains that he sounds excellent. Some great bass work as well. Bass is not a central part of this album, but it greatly livens up specific parts, like certain intros and bridges, much like how the parmesan cheese shaker spruces up your favorite Italian dish, point being that it definitely contributes. I definitely have nothing bad to say about the drums, as well. Everyone plays their instruments incredibly well on this album.
If you like dark 80s alt music, like Depech Mode or Echo & the Bunnymen, I can't reccomend this CD enough. If their only song you've heard is 'Milky Way', I would say check it out if you want something creative and different and fairly catchy.