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The Church - Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars (Communicating Vessels)

29 March 2024

Created during the same sessions as last year’s epic album The Hypnogogue and originally available only on the merch table at shows, The Church’s latest LP Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars serves as Book 2 in the saga begun by its predecessor. Though the next step for the fading rock star that serves as the titular character, the feel of Perfumed Guitars is different than The Hypnogogue, with the dystopian science fiction vibe shifting to melancholy romanticism, and dusky shades replaced by brighter swathes of color. Setting the progressive rock arrangements of the previous album aside, the band lets lush keyboards and guitars set more securely to “jangle” make the songs more inviting, alluring even, despite the subjects exploring heartbreak and dissipation.

Not everything wanders the poppy fields – the steely “Song From the Machine Age” boats a hard edge and a film noir atmosphere (including the memorable lines “I’ll tell ya, baby, you’re a damn fine woman/I don’t care that you wanna kill me”); “Korea” (because there must be at least one song named after a place on every Church album) leans into folk rock balladry. “A Strange Past” puts synth-pop accents, progressive rock length, motorik repetition, and rattling acoustic guitars into a bucket of music not quite like anything else in the group’s catalog. But “2054,” “Manifesto,” and “The Immediate Future” remind us what a perfect psych rock act the Church can be – trippy, melodic, and acutely memorable. At the very least the equal of the justifiably celebrated The Hypnogogue, Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars stands as further proof of how restlessly creative and viable the Church continues to be.