The Church – Untitled #23 (Second Coming Records)

Despite almost 30 years together, The Church sound surprisingly vital on their 23rd full-length album, Untitled #23. Although Steve Kilbey’s Bowie-esque speak-sing vocals and Marty Wilson-Piper’s mix of jangle and psychedelic sounds are overly familiar after such a lengthy discography, the band always finds a new wrinkle to explore on each album. They’ve tried electronica on Sometime Anywhere, gone acoustic for El Momento Descuidado and El Momento Siguiente, used Byrdsy jangle on The Blurred Crusade, and so on. On Untitled #23 the band employs lush atmospherics giving their songs some of the same epic scope and heavenly trajectory as Slowdive or Sigur Ros. The spacey sonics and slow drifting tempos suit the band well, striking pay-dirt on the darkly beautiful “Happenstance”, which sounds like a 21st century Pink Floyd, and on “Space Saviour”, a close cousin to Sigur Ros’ “Glosoli”. Although fans of the band’s more rockin’ creations may bemoan the slow pace and hazy vibe that dominates the album, it’s the perfect soundtrack for a rainy afternoon spent daydreaming and probably the best 23rd album ever released by a rock band.