AOTY 2018
XTC - Skylarking
Sep 29, 2017 (updated Oct 1, 2017)
XTC may not be very well known but it is surely highly influential to the shaping of psychedelic pop sub-genre and development of new wave up to a point.
In Skylarking the band takes on a vertigo that delves into the recollection of common milestones in life - like the joys of being in love, the troubles of growing up, the wedding day, having a family and provide for her, illness and death.
Much of this is powered and devised by the geniality of the two songwriters, Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge, very much invested in streamlining combos of nimble vivid images and breezy pop-energized nuggets. To this effect their work is truly remarkable and one of a kind. Coherence flows back and forth in full rapport with the life cycles given out by the tracks order.
The divergence of moods becomes evident as the listener moves on from the 'Big Day' track - the nocturnal chill creeps in. The brightest shades are still there but a quivering bang knocks at the door and brings out the plain-and-simple murkiness of night. The contrast is however achieved with understated magnificence. The dream-like dimension drops off for a better understanding of the these final moments, these recesses covered by more personal areas. The painted colors are no longer beaming lights to the blackening sky.
It is important to note the alpha-producer Todd Rundgren's back-boning feat to the structure and form. In spite of the internal strifes between him and the bandleaders and his apparent temperament to make it his own undertaking, without his mastering the album would suffer a greater deal. Rundgren turned what might have been another clever-but-distant outing into a beacon of psychedelic greenery. His production epitomized a modern sophistication to the amiable eccentricity of The Beatles and Beach Boys setting the emphasis on the pastoral tunes backed up by sly poetry and huge pop anthems.
While descending from that strain of conception, this album improves upon the classic restraint of stuffing the songs inside out with deviating queues to the sole purpose of creating unpredictability. Somehow maintaining a not far-off song patterns it is still able to get a certain meandering linearization of what each song should be like in the face of the predictability risk. To sum this riddle up: the tempos - along with the orchestration throughout - are everything in this record and make it a worthwhile visit at times.

An unparalleled pop record with so little to "deconstruct" and a lot to enjoy.

Crucial tracks: Grass, Meeting Place, That's Really Super, Supergirl, 1000 Umbrellas, Another Satellite, Dear God
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