Marching Church - Telling It Like It Is

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Marching Church's debut, This World Is Not Enough, burned so brightly, it seemed like it might be the project's only album. Fortunately, though, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and company didn't just keep making music together, they became a full-fledged band. On Telling It Like It Is, Lower's Kristian Emdal and Anton Rothstein, Hand of Dust's Bo Høyer Hansen, Iceage's Johan S. Weith, and trumpet player Jakob Emil Lamdahl sound even more like a group of friends who turn music making into an adventure. Indeed, their first release as a band was an EP of free jazz, even though none of them had any experience playing it. A bit of jazz remains in the drumming on "Let It Come Down," reflecting Marching Church's willingness to try anything and make it their own. This time, they blend soul, jazz, dub, and post-punk with a stream-of-consciousness abandon; "Inner City Pigeon" and "Achilles Heel" shift from meditative to raw and back without warning. While their outbursts might not be quite as explosive as they were on This World, the ways they explore and embellish their passion are far from subdued. The layers of falsetto vocals and melodica on "Lion's Den" are funky, otherworldly and more than a little menacing, while sheets of guitar give the track some bite. Conversely, brass, bongos, and strings add simmering drama to wilder tracks like "Up for Days" and "2016," which rocks like it's 1977. And while Rønnenfelt's voice is still a focal point, Telling It Like It Is feels more collaborative than This World Is Not Enough, and his performances feel less forced. He even lets a bit of humor into songs such as "Heart of Life," where he sings with an intensity that feels completely earnest and completely over-the-top. This blurring of emotions and styles make Marching Church wonderfully hard to place; they're more transporting than many bands that call themselves psychedelic, and their gleeful disregard for genre and structure feels punker than punk. One thing is certain: now that they're a band, their name is more fitting than ever. On Telling It Like It Is, Marching Church sounds like a congregation running wild, searching for the truth. Even if they don't know where they'll find it, it's thrilling to join them on the hunt.

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