Song of the Week: "C'est La Vie"


My recent review of the first single (title song) from The Church's new album, The Hypnogogue, explains my long and deep connection to the band and its music.

The Church has had three "periods" since their debut album in 1981: the first period covered their first three albums (pre-prog); the second period covered their next three albums (proto-prog); and the final (and continuing) period began with their seventh album, Priest=Aura (1992), which began their extraordinary foray into progressive rock, and their quickly becoming a standard-bearer of the neo-prog movement.

Their two most well-known songs, "Under the Milky Way" and "Reptile," both come from their fifth album, Starfish, the second of their proto-prog albums.

In trying to "locate" the sound of this second release from The Hypnogogue within the band's history, I realized that it is not "progressive" in the same sense as "The Hypnogogue" or songs from their many progressive albums. Rather, it harkens back (brilliantly) to the band's proto-prog years. It is as if the band has taken its now fully-developed prog sensibilities and overlaid them on one of their proto-prog (or even pre-prog) songs. And this is by no means a rebuff or criticism. In fact, "C'est Le Vie" would have been quite comfortable on Starfish -- and maybe even equaled "Under the Milky Way" in popularity.

The song opens with a straight rock beat, and is quickly joined by the jangly guitar work that they have become known for. Founder-songwriter-bassist-lyricist-singer Steve Kilbey then launches into one of his trademark talk-sung vocals, as the song becomes increasingly "present" (increased guitar work and atmosphere). A nice, if too brief, instrumental break occurs about halfway through. The song ends with a gorgeous arpeggiated acoustic guitar duet.

"C'est La Vie" is probably the "simplest" song the band has written in quite some time. But it is all the more interesting (and fun) for that. And it makes a perfect foil for the progressiveness of the title track. I have not looked forward to a Church album this much in quite some time.

The album is out on February 24, 2023, with a tour to follow.  The band will be at the Gramercy Theater in NYC on March 30th.

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