books are burning

xtc1

I have a notebook on my desk at work that I use to take notes during every meeting I attend. Last month, I attended a meeting that really didn’t require my presence, and as a result, my mind drifted and I began to write small capsule reviews of every XTC studio album (this was during the last few months of 2015, when I was going through a major XTC rediscovery period). What doesn’t help me at work could sure be useful as a blog entry. It also works if you’re considering diving into the XTC catalog as a newcomer. Here’s a verbatim transcription:

 

White Music – Highly melodic, fast, abrasive punk.

 GO 2 – Same style as White Music, definite drop in songwriting quality.

Drums & Wires – Change in personnel (Barry Andrews out, Dave Gregory in) makes for a huge leap in sophistication.

Black Sea – Much like its predecessor, and the songs are getting better.

English Settlement – Quality improvement continues, no longer writing for the stage.

Mummer – Continuing the style of “not writing for the road,” more acoustic but songs aren’t as good.

Big Express – Loud and obnoxious, horribly produced, a few good songs but mostly forgettable.

Skylarking – Beautiful, cohesive – everything Mummer wanted to be. Their masterpiece.

Oranges & Lemons – Psychedelic power pop. Invigorating. A bit noisy, but great songs and performances.

Nonsuch – Sort of an Oranges & Lemons Part 2, more sophisticated. Highly underrated.

Apple Venus – Gorgeous, great songs, unique arrangements, lots of orchestral bits.

Wasp Star – Compact, lots of guitar, great songs, back to basics.

 

So there you have it. A few takeaways:

I have a moderate dislike for Mummer and find it overrated.

Big Express is my least favorite album of theirs by a longshot. It just sucks.

I have no idea why I didn’t review either of the Dukes of Stratosphear albums. I think the meeting ended before I could get to them.

While I still feel that Skylarking is their best album, Drums & Wires and English Settlement have gone way up in my estimation and may eventually surpass Skylarking.

I pride myself on not once using the word “pastoral” in any of the reviews.

 

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