The Church – Seance

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 3)

I am pretty sure this was the last of the classic era Church albums I bought, just because it was so difficult to find. I know this in part because my copy has a horrifying rip through the booklet, which pains me every time I see it. I would never have bought something in that condition unless I had to. As with any sort of collecting, there are fetishistic and obsessive elements to the enterprise of building and curating one’s music library. I like having the physical copies, enjoy seeing them even without listening to them, and would like them to be in the best condition possible.

What I Think of This Album

I would never accuse the Church of being a fun band. They are serious; not dour, but focused. Nonetheless, Seance feels like their most fun album. It’s almost as consistent as The Blurred Crusade and adds the high points that made Of Skins and Heart so exciting.

Notably, “One Day” is a fantastic piece, with a guitar figure that latches on to your brain, and a vocal take that borders on winking, as well as forceful tom-pounding and a bit of guitar showiness in the bridge. I wish this song didn’t have to end. Too, “Electric Lash” is wondrous. The intro sounds like something from Tommy James and the Shondells, and then quickly becomes something different (better, yes, but that’s not because Tommy James and the Shondells aren’t pretty great). The song features the chorused vocals that would play a larger role on later albums, typically impressive jangle, and some very cool strings. But, the drums sound awful on this song.

Speaking of drums, “It Doesn’t Change” starts out with drums that were borrowed from Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” and then adds stately synths that would’ve been welcomed by New Order; this is a chilly, textured piece that’s a testament to the Church’s understated versatility. The Hammond organ that introduces moody “It’s No Reason (with guest vocals from Michelle Parker, spouse (at some point) of Steve Kilbey) gives way to Kilbey’s voice, an unassuming guitar, and some perhaps too-loud drums (which, again, don’t sound great); this holds sway until the keyboards and strings blindside you with their beauty. There is a lot to like on “Disappear?” (minus the drum sound), which gets more complex and interesting as it progresses.

“Dropping Names” is, well, fun. There. It’s a fun goddamned song – intense and dark and muscular (the drum pattern is cool, but the sound is typically awful). “Travel By Thought” is a post-punk exercise that sounds like a carryover from the debut. The bass is oddly emphasized on “Now I Wonder Why,” which also highlights a harmonica from presumed Kilbey family member Russell Kilbey. “Electric” is okay without being anything special, and opener “Fly” is also decent, with some nice production touches and . . . uh, bongos.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Electric Lash” is amazing, though I still feel bad not choosing “One Day.”

Release Date

May, 1983

The Cover Art

The pink and black is okay. The image, coupled with the title, is misleadingly goth. The font is atrocious (though the image here has different font and sizes from my version – terrible in either incarnation, anyway). Is she a nun? Is that a metal flower?

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