album reviews

The Church
Uninvited, Like the Clouds
Cooking Vinyl (2006)

Despite dozens of releases since its 1981 debut, Australian quartet the Church will probably never shake the stigma of being a one-hit wonder. The group's 1988 single "Under the Milky Way" broke the Top 40 in the United States and was featured most recently in the 2001 film "Donnie Darko" alongside songs by Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division (though the song was inexplicably cut in the 2004 theatrical release of "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut").

The Church's bright, ethereal sound has not changed drastically over the years, and the cover of its latest, "Uninvited, Like the Clouds," seems like a look backward with its trippy drawing of guitars growing in a field alongside flowers and mushrooms. But "Uninvited" manages to sound remarkably inspired, even for a group so heavily rooted in nostalgia. Sunny, jangling guitars give "Easy" a sparkling sheen and energize "Unified Field" into a mesmerizing pop song.

"Uninvited" veers a bit too closely to a Pink Floyd knockoff with the dreamy, psychedelic six-minute epics "Pure Chance" and "Never Before." But the Church gives that laid-back, hypnotic sound a different spin: The mellow sparseness of "Day 5" channels the tenderness of a lullaby and the intimacy of a love song.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 4 August 2006, Page WE07
.: Uninvited, Like the Clouds on