Focused but Fading
The Church are certainly no spring chickens, having been around for three-and-a-half decades with Further/Deeper representing the band’s 21st full length. The Australian band has always held a dedicated following of fans back home; however, their American popularity spiked way back in the late 80’s with their alternative-revolution-approved single “Under the Milky Way.”
Further/Deeper is not a huge game changer for the quartet from Sydney. They spend the majority of the album following in their own footsteps, pumping out track after track of ethereal, lightly-psychedelic alternative rock. While there is a sufficient number of hooks sprinkled throughout its 12 tracks, the album never comes up with anything that remains in the listener’s head for more than a few moments.
The Church moved on from longtime member and guitarist Marty Willson-Piper prior to the writing and recording of Further/Deeper, replacing him with Powderfinger alum Ian Haug. Any changes that came as a result of the switch are not particularly noticeable. The guitars serve mainly as a backdrop of the lyrically-driven songwriting that The Church has become known for.
“Pride Before a Fall” stands out in particular because of its inclusion of the album’s title in its lyrics. It begins with a drifting, wistfully-paced piano rock verse before launching into one of those uplifting, ever-rising choruses that Bono and U2 have made so ubiquitous throughout their discography. Despite being one of the catchiest tracks on Further/Deeper, “Laurel Canyon” is a fairly disposable acoustic song that shares a name with the world’s second most famous canyon and the birthplace of a rather bland niche of folk.
Meanwhile, “Globe Spinning” starkly stands out among the rest of the album with its quasi-danceable shuffle, dizzying synthesizer runs and faded-out vocals. It represents a step in a slightly different direction for the band and in the process is the de-facto highlight of the record.
“Globe Spinning” actually sounds quite similar to tracks from some modern indie bands that have garnered larger support here in the United States, such as Lower Dens or Future Islands. Alas, this may be The Church’s greatest accomplishment in the United States; never actually reaching the level of mass popularity, instead inspiring and influencing those newer bands that do.