February 26, 2023 The Church – Hypnogogue (Album Review)
One the pioneers of Ethereal/Psychedelic-tinged New Wave / Jangle Pop music genres, The Church are back with their 26th overall full-length studio album. Yes, that is right the 26th… hence earning them the title of prolific.
Formed back in 1980, The Church is well-loved in the New Wave community since their 1981-released debut record, Of Skins & Hearts, which rendered one of its first fan favorites, “The Unguarded Moment.” A slew of albums followed afterwards, powered by chart-topping carriers like “Already Yesterday,” “Reptile,” “Spark,” and the breakthrough single “Under the Milky Way.”
Following up their 2017’s Man Woman Life Death Infinity, the Sydney, Australia originated band – currently consisting of founder Steve Kilbey (lead vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar) and members Tim Powles (drums, percussion, backing vocals, keyboards, guitar), Ian Haug (guitar, backing vocals), Jeffrey Cain (guitar, bass, backing vocals, guitar), and Ashley Namor (guitar) – unleashes the new album entitled Hypnogogue.
Released on Friday, February 24, 2023, via Communicating Vessels, The Church’s latest masterpiece is full of shimmering, chiming, and sonically hypnotic pieces of music. Their first ever concept record, Hypnogogue consists of thirteen tracks, and opens with the ominous “Ascendence,” which builds up into a swirl, reminiscent of the vintage “Is This Where You Live?”
The guitar angularity becomes sharper as “C’est la Vie” plays next, whereas the upbeat “I Think I Knew” and the brooding ballad “Flickering Lights” will remind the listener of Kilbey’s bittersweet romanticism. This is while the title-track pulsates its somber sentiments, exuding echoes of The Cure’s seminal 2000 album Bloodflowers.
Moving on, “Albert Ross” continues the sense of contemplativeness, while “Thorn” is playful while “Aerodrome,” melodic and familiar. Thereafter, “The Coming Days” switches the ambience into something psychedelic and gothic. “No Other You,” on the other hand, is what may be described as Countryside Shoegaze. The Church then slow-burns the senses with the undulating sound of “Succulent.” Second-to-the-last is “Antarctica,” a dreamy, fuzzy, yet driving and intense song. Finally, The Church concludes the set aptly with “Second Bridge”- a slow piano-led, guitar-charged ballad.
After 43 years and 26 studio albums, Kilbey with the rest of The Church still delivers! Amidst the countless bands that populate the music world and social media at large, Church-believers should unite and delight in the music that has given them Psychedelic aspirations, Dreampop moments, and Shoegaze sensibilities. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Hypnogogue 4 out of 5 stars.