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The Church

Forget Yourself (spinART)

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Because the Church has had few mainstream hits in America -- the rainy-day mysticism of "Under the Milky Way" was its only Top 40 bow -- people often overlook the sterling quality of the Aussie group's career. Evolving from spry, wet-behind-the-ears janglers on the 1981 debut, Of Skins and Heart, to lush craftsmen of drifting hooks on 2002's After Everything Now This, band members managed to avoid churning out any clunker albums within those two decades.

Consistency still reigns supreme on its 17th outing, which toughens up bassist Steve Kilbey's sleepy-eyed vocals and the band's trademark neo-psychedelia with harsher riff pinwheels on "Sealine" and pounding tribal murkiness on "Song in Space." But the overall cohesion and shimmering complexity of Yourself comes at the expense of the Church's once-giddy ability to mix otherworldly atmospheres with earthbound hooks. The disc often meanders in a haze of forgettable noodling, and it shines only when scaling dizzying emotional heights with concise poignancy, as on the Ride-style "Appalatia" and "Summer," a musical cousin to Echo & the Bunnymen's "Ocean Rain" that's a heaven-scraping daydreamer rife with gentle coos of sighing guitar.

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