10 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Much of this 1988 album documents Los Angeles (and America) through the eyes of Church lead singer Steve Kilbey, a guy whose songwriting gift has always been about grasping life’s absurdities alongside its inherent poetry. The band’s gently chiming breakthrough single, “Under the Milky Way,” told of disconnection, of “loveless fascination”; it's as hushed a pop song as anything to ever hit the worldwide Top 40. Produced by West Coast mellow-mafia men Waddy Wachtel (Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon) and Greg Ladanyi (Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne), the record sounds suspended between folk and pop, between Laurel Canyon hippies and pop-psych revivalists. Kilbey and band (including remarkable guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, who sings the rocker “Spark” here) ably pull sadness to the beautiful poppy fore, especially on “Hotel Womb,” “Lost,” “A New Season," and “Antenna.” And you won’t find many better condemnations of ’80s L.A. than “North, South, East and West” and “Blood Money.” There’s a timelessness to the music on Starfish that borders the mythical—that is, as mythical as any pop-rock album can be.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Much of this 1988 album documents Los Angeles (and America) through the eyes of Church lead singer Steve Kilbey, a guy whose songwriting gift has always been about grasping life’s absurdities alongside its inherent poetry. The band’s gently chiming breakthrough single, “Under the Milky Way,” told of disconnection, of “loveless fascination”; it's as hushed a pop song as anything to ever hit the worldwide Top 40. Produced by West Coast mellow-mafia men Waddy Wachtel (Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon) and Greg Ladanyi (Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne), the record sounds suspended between folk and pop, between Laurel Canyon hippies and pop-psych revivalists. Kilbey and band (including remarkable guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, who sings the rocker “Spark” here) ably pull sadness to the beautiful poppy fore, especially on “Hotel Womb,” “Lost,” “A New Season," and “Antenna.” And you won’t find many better condemnations of ’80s L.A. than “North, South, East and West” and “Blood Money.” There’s a timelessness to the music on Starfish that borders the mythical—that is, as mythical as any pop-rock album can be.

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