Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Church

  • Remote Luxury [Warner Bros., 1984] B
  • Starfish [Arista, 1988] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Remote Luxury [Warner Bros., 1984]
I see these Aussies as the wimp Del Fuegos--musically they wind up just where they want and epistemologically they go next to nowhere. All right, so the songs are quite pretty in a modernized early-Faces/late-Zombies kind of way--more consistently so than the '60s competition (which gives them a leg up on the Fuegos, who like the macho boys they are take on the Stones). I even get the point: the sweet, melancholy alienation the band cultivates is an attractive alternative to the crass pragmatism and/or self-righteous nihilism of their contemporaries. But where my own fave formalists the Shoes are honest enough to focus their lyrics on the very limited social milieu essential to the nurture of such alternatives, these guys evade specifics via metaphor and have the presumption to reproduce their hazy poetry on the inner sleeve. Which may help explain why the music sometimes almost drifts away. B

Starfish [Arista, 1988]
Anybody who can't hear this album's pretty textures and expert hooksmanship has problems with his or her central nervous system. I mean, facts are facts. But tastes are open to dispute, and anybody who gets off on its lulling rhythms and obscure lyrics has his or hers stuck in the '60s and up his or her ass respectively. B