The Church – Heyday

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 4)

This was my real introduction to the Church. Or maybe I should say, the true starting point of my fandom. I had heard – and loved – “Under the Milky Way” – but my best friend in high school, Meetul, raved about Heyday, so that is where I went first (his track record was spotty, I should note, as he was also a big A-ha fan). Easily the artistic high point of the Church’s career, Heyday is the work all other Church albums are measured against.

What I Think of This Album

If you don’t think this is the best Church album, then you don’t know anything about music. The only possible negative is that the production is maybe a tad glossy and bloodless, but this is a minor quibble. Would I be interested in a rawer sounding version of this album? Sure, but that’s not a reason to complain about Heyday.

The album is characterized by horns, strings, Steve Kilbey’s multi-tracked vocals, and fantastic guitar collaboration between Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes. One thing the production does have going for it is that Kilbey’s voice is much more out front, and he sings with greater confidence and poise. There is a vaguely old-world, mystical, almost runic, aura to the album, probably due to a combination of the psychedelic guitars, the song titles (e.g., “Myrrh,” “Roman,” “Tristesse,” “Columbus,” “Night of Light”), the paisley explosion on the cover, and the choral and string touches. This album exists outside of time – nothing here pins it to the mid-’80s but it also doesn’t sound like it belongs squarely to any other era.

With all that out of the way, the songs are superb. Not enough can be said about the blast that is “Tantalized,” whose horns add just the right amount of majesty and the xylophone (vibes?) on the chorus are perfect; the guitars, of course, are outstanding and Kilbey turns in a nice bass part, too. Lead track “Myrrh” is a guitar masterpiece, with a spooky, low-key delivery from Kilbey. The lyrics about a “gunfight in Dodge City” are unusual but everything else about the lush, intricate “Tristesse” is amazing. “

Already Yesterday” rolls along gently, with fine guitar work supporting it. “Columbus” and “Night of Light” are both dramatic and thrilling, while jangly “Disenchanted” is knowing and cutting. Karin Jansson (Pink Champagne) co-wrote the vivid “Youth Worshipper” with Kilbey. “Roman” appears to end the album on a funereal note, but the band takes a left turn and delights with more psychedelic mastery. That the Church decided to throw in a five-and-a-half minute instrumental (“Happy Hunting Ground”) tells you how confident they felt on this album – they knew they could do no wrong.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Tantalized” is the easy choice, but that seems unfair. I will instead say the arrangements are the highlight of the album.

Release Date

November, 1985 (Australia); January, 1986 (US)

The Cover Art

Yes. This is an iconic Church image and album cover. The shirts are ‘60s, the hair and earrings are ‘80s, the tapestry is, I don’t know, 15th century. It is a little disorienting, yet it coheres nicely. The text is understated and clean.

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