Australia's The Church has spent over two decades exploring the singing voice of the electric guitar, weaving rich tapestries of sound for those willing to slow their pace enough to listen. Like their 1988 album Starfish, a masterpiece of dreamy, floating guitars, After Everything Now This is a consistent buzz, a continually pleasant trip of gently wafting guitars tinged with distortion and other effects. The songs are, more or less, of the same laid-back tempo, giving a nice cohesion to album. Even though ten songs of the same tempo would normally put me under, The Church is inventive in their use of sound and the listener is treated to a constant parade of tonal surprises that pick at your ear like a hungry goldfish.
The poppy "Song For the Asking" is a typical song from The Church with mellow guitar glissandi, light piano adornment, and a throbbing, hidden beat that lies just below the surface, adding a hint of darkness to an otherwise melancholy song. The bright "Seen It Coming", with its exemplary guitar work, is the sick love-child between U2 and Oasis and "After Everything" has a beautiful simplicity and wave-like fluidity that float the listener on a relaxing bed of reverb. "Chromium" turns up the tempo a bit in this mid-tempo rocker. Here the two vocalists trade parts, adding nice variety to this comparatively straight-forward track. With organs, ringing guitars and complex structure, "Reprieve" reminded me of very early Pink Floyd (think Syd Barrett era). The "peaceful like a budda" song increases in intensity artfully halfway in before emerging from the fog bank, gliding peacefully over a sea of clouds. The final track, "Invisible", is built around a tape loop of squeaking fret noise. With an unparalleled tranquility, The Church spins a glassy web to catch the tide-like distortions that waft from their amps, leaving the listener relaxed and subdued.
Displaying a continuity and sense of unity unmatched since Starfish, The Church continue to ply their trade of enchanting the adventurous with cascading waves of sound. This is shoe-gazing minimalist pop-rock at it's finest with ten songs sure to drag you into the under-tow of their control.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, February 2002.