Review Revue: The Church – Heyday

If you’re a person who was born in the 70s or early 80s (and odds are, if you’re reading this, you are), the song and album that instantly come to mind when you think of The Church (that’s the band, not the, uh, church) are “Under the Milky Way” and Starfish. “Under the Milky Way” was the Church’s first, and remains their biggest, hit; it was the soundtrack to many an awkward middle-school slow dance in the late 80s and early 90s (and maybe still to this day, for all I know), and it’s one of those songs that instantly brings the listener back to the wistful days of his youth. It appeared on Starfish, which was the Australian band’s big breakthrough album. It and its follow-up Gold Afternoon Fix (which I listened to endlessly on cassette) were, at least to me, the best known albums by the band.

But The Church is (present tense) an incredibly prolific and long-lived band. They had released four full-length albums and three EPs before breaking through with Starfish, and despite never attaining that level of commercial success again, they continue to release albums to this day: last year they released Untitled #23, their 20th full-length album. This year they marked their 30th anniversary as a band with a tour of small venues in the U.S., composing their set lists with a song from each of their 20 albums (where was I on April 9th? I don’t know, but I probably should have been at the Showbox).

All of this is just to give you a bit of perspective for the KCMU DJs’ takes on Heyday, the band’s fourth LP. They weren’t the big deal they would be a couple years later with the release of Starfish, but they were on a major label, and certainly critically respected, and would have been well known in the halls of a savvy college radio station. Seems like the crew was pretty split on this one — or maybe just distracted by the cheesy cover image.

“I think U2 joined in on a coupla songs? [There is no evidence anywhere on the Internet to support this assertion.] Churchish but without the pepper.”

“What nice hair they have! And what pretty shirts, too. Musically this is weak, especially compared to some older, better, material.”

“Good effort! Stupid cover tho’.”

“This is not nearly as good as earlier Church LPs. In fact it’s a real letdown.”

“According to The Church, the cover was a joke. don’t take it so seriously, folks! Great music within. Thick & lush, but beautiful.” [Like their hair?]

“Over-produced and wimpy.”

“I’ve come to like this more since my youthful comments above. [‘Over-produced and wimpy.’] I guess it was the cover I didn’t like. CHURCH!!”

“Mm, ‘Myrrh‘ is so great!!”

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