The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Andrew P. Street

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.

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