"HEYDAY." The Church. Warner Bros.

Some records featuring mumbling singers are frustrating because of the lack of a lyric sheet. The problem with "Heyday" is that it has one. The songs on the Aussie band's third American release flow with finely crafted melodies and jangly guitars, and Steven Kilby's tranquil singing sounds like a cross between early David Bowie and a less madcap Robyn Hitchcock. Stax-style horn charts and mesmerizing string arrangements also help the Church sound fresh among the growing army of '80s flower people. But when Kilby's lyrics are put on display, things start to wilt. His imagery is too surreal to bother trying to make sense of. On a few tunes, however, where the abstract wordplay falls into place and complements the sweeping feel, the album's title couldn't be more appropriate.

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