Rise from your gwave!
So I recently decided to do a deep dive into XTC after seeing the fairly recent doc on Sky Arts, for which there is this excellent trailer:
Not for the first time in my life I'm kicking myself for not discovering a band's work sooner. I'd always liked 'Senses Working Overtime', and 'Making Plans for Nigel' as a kid, but I'd never dove in as an adult, despite occasionally hearing them referred to as geniuses.
And of course, they were fucking amazing. Andy Partridge talks in the documentary about how they started pretty good and got better, but I do think there was a sweet spot which is basically 'Drums and Wires' and 'Black Sea'. The latter in particular is utterly perfect in my opinion. The opening 5 tracks (Respectable Street/Generals and Majors/Living Through another Cuba/Love at First Sight/Rocket from a Bottle) are just smash after smash, it then takes a pause for breath with 'No Language in Our Lungs' (which is still great, but musically a definite breather), but then you're into another run of belters (Towers of London/Paper and Iron/Burning with Optimism's Flames/Sgt Rock), until Travels in Nihilon turns things all experimental.
I also really like 'English Settlement', 'Mummer', and 'The Big Express' , but I feel like there's an urgency to that first pair of albums with Dave Gregory on guitar which perfectly blends the New Wave punk of their first two albums with pure pop hooks, but also an experimental inquisitiveness. What Partridge himself calls "Gently exploratory pop music".
I still have a few more albums to try. I haven't quite clicked with 'Skylarking' yet, but I'll probably fall asleep to it on the train at some point and wake up loving it.
Excellent clips of 'Helicopter' from 'Drums and Wires'
And 'Living Through another Cuba'/'Generals and Majors':