The Church – El Momento Descuidado

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 7)

I suppose this is the time to apologize to Peter Koppes. I am prone to assuming all the exciting guitar work on Church albums is attributable to Marty Willson-Piper, but obviously that can’t be true. Willson-Piper has his own blog, and he goes into detail about the band’s recordings and tours; needless to say, he gives Koppes ample credit. Here’s to you, Peter Koppes. You are the Church member I treat way too unfairly.

What I Think of This Album

This is basically the Church unplugged. That’s a great idea; the problem is that it’s poorly executed. The band sounds excellent, of course, but the song selection is criminal.

Fewer than half of the fourteen songs are from the classic period. Also, one of those is “A New Season,” which is a good song, but pales in comparison to many others from that time. There is nothing from Seance and only one song from Heyday. Three more songs are from 2000s era albums, and five are brand new songs. Of those eight songs, I like just two. This should have been an alternate Best of collection, shepherding in new fans. Instead, it is a charming but confounding novelty for devoted fans.

Hearing “The Unguarded Moment” in this setting is eye-opening, and “Metropolis” also benefits from the stripped down arrangement. There is a delicate mandolin on “Tristesse,” and “Under the Milky Way” becomes spooky and sinister, with some high lonesome harmonica in the shadows and a stellar bongo pattern from newish drummer Tim Powles. “Almost WIth You” gets some sweet vibes thrown in towards the end.

There does seem to be some minor studio involvement, with effects on the cymbals (most noticeable on “Unguarded Moment”) and other gilding touches. On the best songs, the band gives an intimate, revealing performance – particularly Steve Kilbey, who adopts the ideal vocal tone throughout and the subtle contributions of Powles. Someone plays the piano on a lot of these tracks, but it is unclear who. New track “0408” is pretty good, and 2002’s “Invisible” is a decent addition.

The Best Thing About This Album

When I say what I like most about this album is the Spanish translation of “The Unguarded Moment” for the title, I am not taking a swipe at the collection.

Release Date

November, 2004

The Cover Art

These portraits from Steve Kilbey don’t add anything to this release, further frustrating what should have been a Church essential purchase.

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