Saturday, March 8, 2008

This Is Pop

Recently, I’ve started to become very interested in new wave music of the 70s and 80s – again. This same thing happened about two years ago and made me do some research about this amazing stuff and listen to some bands. Now I feel it’s even bigger than then. I feel the urge to listen to many, many bands. Unfortunately, I have to do other things, too, and therefore I can’t listen to music 24/7. Damn!

One of my very first new wave interests was the great British XTC. I listened to Fossil Fuel - The Singles 1977-92 and was quite puzzled at first. Slowly, I started noticing that these songs are actually great fun! I believe this was the big new wave breakthrough for me. I learned to see the beauty of Andy Partridge’s peculiar vocal style, those ultra fast-paced (and bouncy!) rhythms and various weird keyboard/synth lines, and that was it. I had fallen in love with XTC.

XTC’s early singles are hilarious! Science Friction, Statue of Liberty, Are You Receving Me?, and of course the new wave pop anthem This Is Pop are all perfect. Then, I also listened to XTC’s first album White Music (1978) and found more crazy stuff there, like I’ll Set Myself on Fire, a song that seems to be about... setting oneself on fire. Generally, XTC’s early music is labelled as punk, which I find a bit strange. It surely has some punk qualities, but I believe it’s still much weirder than Ramones and stuff. Punk, new wave, punk/new wave – who can really tell what music is what?

Then, I learned that XTC had also created some very much more traditional pop. I found Skylarking (1986), one of the greatest pop albums ever. Here, XTC’s music has basically turned into power pop. Produced by Todd Rundgren, Skylarking is a really wonderful album that combines traditional pop songwriting with some exciting and fresh arrangements. Basically, this album is a collection of songs of excellent quality. Grass, The Meeting Place, That's Really Super Supergirl, Ballet for a Rainy Day, Season Cycle, Earn Enough for Us – they’re all wonderful! In the end of the album you’ll also find several interesting tracks such as The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul, and of course Dear God, which was some sort of a hit in the 80s.

My knowledge of XTC surely is very limited, because I still have most of their albums unlistened. I think I’ll take advantage of this new wave affection that I have. Anyway, XTC is a huge influence in pop music. XTC’s influence can be heard in 90s and 00s power pop, for instance.

XTC on MySpace


Reno Rambler said...

I love seeing people discover XTC. Truly a remarkable band. If you haven't checked out Black Sea and English Settlement I'd say those are the best of the "real band" years. When they become more studio oriented I'd point to Oranges and Lemons as a real peak. There are no weak albums in their catalog so you can't go too wrong.

Oh, and you must not miss their alter ego band, The Dukes of Stratosphere. Fantastic!

Love the blog - rr

Melody Freak said...

Thanks Reno! Receiving comments from new people is wonderful.

I have listened to all those albums and The Dukes a bit, but not that much, yet. I will surely listen to them more now that I'm in the middle of a huge personal new wave craze! Can't wait..