The Church
Starfish


4.5
superb

Review

by theamazingjamez USER (11 Reviews)
October 5th, 2014 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An excellent and artistic mix of 80s alt-rock and progressive rock, possibly one of the last great albums of the 80s.

The 80s… What a unique decade that was. A decade characterized by reverbed vocals, reverbed guitars, reverbed drums, an insane amount of arena anthems, and lots and lots of hair. Lots of hair. If it’s my own personal and humble opinion, I think that the 80s were kind of a low point in rock music. The music from the 80s has always seemed to me to be too shallow, too accessible, too repetitive, too formulaic. I mean, let’s be honest, most hair anthems do follow the same exact structure. It does feel like thousands of bands listened to one, reberby record and did the exact same thing. For ten years. That’s not to say that it was all bad. It would be a crime not to mention greats like The Smiths, The Cure, and The Talking Heads. Despite this, I am, overall, not impressed by the 80s.

I am tempted to say that even the 80s were sick of the 80s. Do you ever notice the suddenness of stylistic change from the 80s to the 90s" It’s virtually instantaneous. In ’89, we have hair bands making music with reverbed drums, and in ’91, we have Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins channeling focused, heavy grunge. Sure, there might have been one or two transition bands, but I think that as the 80s drew to a close, the bands of the time, sensing the end of their era, pulled out some impressive work. And that’s where Starfish comes in. Having been released in 1988, I think that this album is one of the treasures from the end of the 80s. Is it the last great album of the 80s" Certainly not. That cherished title goes to The Cure’s Disintegration. However, I think that Starfish is often left out and brushed over when looking for great albums of the 80s. Standing as The Church’s breakthrough album, Starfish is a mysterious, otherworldly, progressive effort that has undoubtedly stood the test of time.

Starfish is one of the most eerie and interesting albums of its time in terms of its musical atmosphere, and how the instruments, effects, and lyrics reflect that atmosphere. Unlike countless 80s albums, The Church saturates their instruments with reverb and delay with a certain purpose, giving the album an ethereal, otherworldly tone. Delated guitars blend with ambient synthesizers and paint a blurry image, which is built up even more by the lyrics of the songs. In the song “Destination,” we hear the line, “It’s not a religion, it’s just a technique.” Yet, throughout the entirety of the album, it seems as though the band is undertaking some sort of religious experience, as if trying to transcend their current plane of existence. “Destination” serves as an excellent introduction to such an album, with prominent progressive influences and an unorthodox structure.. “Under The Milky Way” could be the best song on the record, featuring an ancient sounding acoustic guitar and… wait for it… an epic, alienish bagpipe solo. Does it give one goosebumps" For certain. Songs “Reptile” and “Blood Money” are almost as good, with catchy guitar hooks and rattling percussion.

This album’s excellence isn’t limited to those tracks, though. The raging solos of “North, South, East, and West” make that track one of the better tracks on Starfish, along with its cryptic rhymes, as Steve Kilbey murmurs something about “liquidity” over and over. The steady plod of “Antenna” and “Hotel Womb” make the album worth it as well, with the latter including some of the creepiest lyrics on the record: “She’s got the face of the widow who keeps following me/ And the body of my bride.” More goosebumps" But, even then, just to barely keep listeners from drowning in the abyss of the ethereal unknown, The Church sticks on “A New Season,” an upbeat tune, and maybe, along with “Destination,” one of the more progressive. This album could be a complete classic, if it wasn’t for some filler tracks. “Lost,” in comparison to some of the other tracks, is plain boring, and seems, ironically, aimless and lost. “Spark” isn’t too much better, seeming overdramatic as co-vocalist Marty Willson overpronounces all of the syllables in his lyrics, but the song’s bridge is quite entertaining.

Those flaws notwithstanding, Starfish stands as an excellent effort in the mysterious terrain of progressive rock, and for sure one of the last great albums of the 80s.

Recommended Tracks:
Destination
Under The Milky Way
North, South, East, and West
Hotel Womb



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user ratings (97)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
jmorris724 (4.5)
This album is everything modern rock should be....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Mad.
October 5th 2014


4741 Comments


Good review, definitely got me interested in this. I agree with your points about 80s music haha

I'd recommend you split up those paragraphs, quite long and wall-of-text-ish

theamazingjamez
October 5th 2014


39 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for your advice! I've tried splitting up that somewhat intimidating first paragraph, and I suppose it's much more readable now.

KILL
October 6th 2014


81233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bro the 80s ruled check maiden



awesome album tho holy fuck some of the catchiest guitar leads in music ever

zakalwe
October 6th 2014


26499 Comments


This sounds like it could be the ultimate grey day October jam.
I'm bracing myself.

Digging: Rustin Man - Drift Code

KILL
October 6th 2014


81233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

reptile will change your life

zakalwe
October 6th 2014


26499 Comments


This is quality!

BallsToTheWall
October 6th 2014


49310 Comments


Good band, haven't heard this album though.

Digging: T.S.O.L. - Dance With Me

bach
June 24th 2018


16152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A new season changed me

Digging: Ariana Grande - Sweetener

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2018


41200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

bach bumpin the good shit

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

bach
June 25th 2018


16152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You know how I keeps it row

bach
June 25th 2018


16152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

destination is one of the best openers also

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2018


41200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Destination and Milky Way back to back is utterly unbelievable



def check some of their other stuff if you haven't heard em, Heyday and The Blurred Crusade slap hard

bach
June 26th 2018


16152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Noted row good lookin out

conesmoke
June 26th 2018


5912 Comments


This whole album is unbelievable, and thoae drums sound so good. Reptile is my fave off here. That riff in north, south east west tho, and hotel womb omg.. man its just such a well done alb. 6/5



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