Sydney Rococo Steve Kilbey Golden Robot Something very strange has happened to Steve Kilbey. The voice of the Church has run a parallel solo career throughout his 40-odd-year musical journey, but generally the albums released under his own name were lower-key affairs than his band releases. That’s clearly no longer the case. While the Church is still very much a going concern — the band has just wound up a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of its classic album Starfish — the confident Sydney Rococo is second to none. From the first listen it’s clear that none of the songs on the album could have easily been Church numbers. That’s impressive, since they mainly feature a similar guitars/bass/ drum set-up (with a band that includes former Badlove member Jak Housden and Models’ sticksman Barton Price, plus ethereal backing vocals from Robyn Lau) but the layers of piano and strings push them in fascinating new directions. The production, too, is decidedly un-Churchy, with Kilbey’s voice placed up front and centre. The agenda-setting title track is an affectionate love letter to his home city. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to lines such as, “When the pingers wear off, they’ll bring us something to eat”. It’s matched by I Love It When She Sings, the sort of big-chord pop song Kilbey hasn’t written in a long time. At the risk of destroying Kilbey’s reputation for wry, introverted mystery, this is possibly the most outright joyful he has sounded since … actually, perhaps ever.