Seance is once of my favorite Church records because it IS very much OF ITS Time.
I don't understand why this is a bad thing--music and nostalgia for different eras is a pleasant thing to me. It will forever be associated with a certain era when music was incredibly important. I remember where I was when I got this on compact disc, and where it was prominently displayed in record stores all throughout Minneapolis. When Arista acquired the catalog, they created the "Remote Luxury" album and they cranked out all of the titles before Starfish. They stacked them up in record stores, and they put them in order. Of Skins and Heart, you knew it was the first one, and Heyday was the last one before the breakthrough. Seance sat in the middle of the pile, stunning cover and all. You couldn't just buy one. You had to have it.
I'll never forget thinking, what other band had a slew of better records than this? This is treasure.
I remember putting this on whenever I had the time to sit and actually listen to it through speakers and through headphones. Fantastic stuff! I like it all. The synthesizers and the space in the songs and the drumming and the thought behind it all. Not dreck to me, not insignificant at all. This is what defined the ideal of holding this in your mind and living in the meditation of it all. Who has time for that now? Nice work if you can get it. I'm lucky when this cycles through randomly in the car. But, no! This is for speakers and quiet rooms.
To understand the album, yes, you have to remember everyone was much younger and looking for that elusive big hit, that thing that would secure a place in the world from which to look out from. If you're making your third album after an EP just bombed, you'd be a nervous wreck, too, and you'd overdo it. So, I don't look unkindly at the effort because it is of its time and that's a good thing.
What makes it stand out? The swing and miss variety of songs? The clumsy snare drum overdub on what is the finest and most jangly of all early Church singles? The use of fast songs and slow songs to walk you through a version of the world that you wanted to exist? Combined as a whole, these songs really do stand up and hold their own. Do you like Future Islands? They use the synth sound and the heart-on-the-sleeve vocals to reach out and try to do something that is not ordinary. Do you like those moody shoe gazers and their flat vocals and distorted crawl? They owe a bit to this album. Do you think Bowie was content to crank out the same thing every year and a half? Seance is an album of dark atmosphere, and if it had to be done once, at least it wasn't run into the ground and recycled for the masses.
I view the whole thing as essential listening if you want to understand "why it feels so good to feel so sad." I view it as something that definitely inspired people to wander into darker places and look for sounds that could not be made safe for Radio Disney. It is one of a set. All of the Church albums are a thing I take from place to place, digitally catalogued and saved for eternity. I have the vinyl and the CDs, but all of that is stored so it can never be lost. If you have it, you're never getting rid of it, are you?
When was the last time you saw Seance in the used bin?