Sunday, January 27, 2008


EL MOMENTO DESCUIDADO, which follows up 2004's underrated FORGET YOURSELF, finds the Church performing stripped-down renditions of their classic songs, while adding a handful of new tunes to the mix. The long-running Australian quartet sounds remarkably vibrant on this 14-track set, which begins, appropriately enough, with a gentle rendition of "The Unguarded Moment," from the group's 1981 debut. Among the other older songs here, the band performs a wonderfully spare version of "Almost with You" and, of course, their only true hit, "Under the Milky Way," which is even more lovely and emotionally direct in this acoustic format, with frontman Steve Kilbey's deep, rich vocals easing the tune along. It's impressive that the newer tracks blend nicely with their revered predecessors, most notably the beautifully chiming "0408" and minimalist, piano-led "Between Mirages." Like fellow Aussie pop heroes the Go-Betweens, the Church have learned to balance the old with the new, while remaining inventive and vital. Fans that may have written the group off in the '90s will likely be pleasantly surprised by this excellent outing, which looks both backward and forward.

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