The Church could have had it all. After the mainstream success of their last two albums, the Australian quartet seemed poised for platinum paradise. But Priest = Aura, the eighth Church album, contains some puzzling material that only begins to sink in after several listens.
Abandoning mid-tempo rock, the band returns to a subtler, more mystical approach. A few longtime staples, such as shimmering guitar arpeggios, remain intact. Lyrics are as enigmatic as ever: "Woman equals man and pot equals pan." Whatever.
Steve Kilbey's portentous vocals linger over an aural landscape that's tense, delicate and deliberately murky. Priest = Aura might be a bit too abstruse to lure huge flocks to the Church's pews. But keep listening, groove on the lugubrious mood, and you just might find yourself converted. (Arista)