Day 364: XTC – Skylarking

27 Feb

Grass

With this nonsense almost over, there are a few things that I’ve started worrying about.  No, I’m not concerned with whether or not I’ve improved as a writer, or if I’ve actually broadened my taste in music over the past year . . . instead, I’m preoccupied by the fact that I have not yet listend to a band with a name starting with each letter of the alphabet. That has got to change.  If my writing is going to get worse and worse with every post, and my taste is going to narrow as a result of the Swole, I have to at least be able to say that I covered every letter of the alphabet.

Suggested to me a few weeks ago, I decided to put off Skylarking, our only “X” entry, until the final days. What can I say? I have a flare for the dramatic.

So here’s the thing . . . for my last few posts, I’ve been trying to give each record a fair chance, which means multiple listens.  I pressed play on Skylarking, and was initially unmoved, especially by the record’s complete lack of flow.  That’s when I realized that I had iTunes set to shuffle.

I’m listening to it again, in the correct order (a few songs receiving an unheard of third play), and I have to admit, it’s pretty good.  With a sound somewhere between R.E.M., The Beach Boys, and The Beautiful South, it’s easy to say that I’ve never heard anything quite like XTC before.  Weird sound effects and all kinds of keyboards are blended effortlessly with some solid guitar hooks and fairly carefree lyrics, in a sound that’s pretty hard to resist.

But perhaps more importantly, Skylarking shows just how important the song order of an album can be.  Out of order, it comes off as disjointed and uninspired, but when every track is in its rightful place, with every song flowing into the next, we’ve got something really cool on our hands.  It may not be that new The xx record that the world has been waiting for, but I’m fine with having XTC as the one and only “X.”

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