Gold Afternoon Fix
should have been a consolidation of the band's increased commercial profile and cachet after "Under the Milky Way," heightened by the welcome reissue of the band's first five albums. Unfortunately, the Church
's original choice for producer -- John Paul Jones
, who likely would have helped oversee a total masterpiece -- was rejected, leading to another session with Wachtel
. This time the balance between accessibility and art didn't succeed as planned. The end result is an album that's sometimes fantastic, sometimes merely there. Some of the singles didn't help things any -- the first, "Metropolis," is one of the band's more subtle rockers, with a catchy chorus and some fine guitar, especially at the end, but not immediate first-listen success. The first track on the album as a whole is a different matter -- "Pharoah" is a dramatic start, with the slow builds so favored by the band given a decidedly threatening, ominous twist. After that things move between hit and miss, but there's enough character coming through to ensure a pleasant listen. "Monday Morning" lightly repeats the waltz-time feel of Starfish
's "Antenna," while "Russian Autumn Heart," Willson-Piper
's vocal lead on the album, is a crisp rocker with the guitarist delivering things in his trademark ragged-but-right fashion. Other general highlights include "Disappointment" and the gentle "Laughing," but "Grind" is the other main keeper on Fix
, a slow destructive burn of a song that matches the opening menace of "Pharoah" with a measured downward slide.