Peter H Cummings | Storrs, CT USA | 09/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well folks, I was going to go into a whole deal about why I really love this band, in fact I wrote a first draft which was just that. But then it hit me, if you've gotten this far, you're probably already familiar with the band, so why bother?
If you ARE new to the band I'll just say buy this record....it's really lovely.
Now, for the fans out there.... I'm a seriously devoted listener of everything that XTC has ever done. From when I was a new convert to Punk back in the late `70's and picked up `White Music' I was attracted to the way they blended the urgency of Punk, but never lost sight of the tune, and I continued to eagerly follow them through their delightful journeys into Beatle territory and beyond as they grew and developed.
However, I don't really consider myself a gushy `fan boy' because as much as I truly do love them, I can also discuss their short comings and what I personally feel are some of the, well, blunders they've made during their long career.
But hey, that's also why they're so great. Despite the voices of some that revere them as demigods, the NEW Beatles etc., I feel that XTC is a beautifully human band, very real people, who produce a music that despite it's occasional flights into rococo grandeur, is a very earthbound thing.
Which brings us to this, Apple Venus II, Wasp Star.As a middle aged guy who grew up on a steady diet of rock music, I find this to be perhaps the best example, and most honest representation of older rockers still pulling out the stops, yet maintaining their dignity that I've ever heard.
The tunes are tight, solid, and thick....but never trying to be anything but what they are....catchy, clever, thoughtful, graceful, urgent, but never rushed, finely crafted tunes. Just freakin' great songs..But don't get me wrong, this is not a record that can only be enjoyed by the post 40 crowd. With XTC's usual sharpness and wit, the songs are fresh, exciting, and vital.
You need not listen in a comfy chair.....in fact I recently sent a copy to a friends ... daughter comfortable in the fact that I'm sure she'll delight in the crunching guitars, the heavy at times, almost `English Settlement' beats, and the sheer joy that is being expressed through the fun that they're obviously having rocking out a bit after Apple Venus One's more subdued, lush, gorgeous tones.All in all, while I admit it took a few listenings to fully grab me by the collar and make me swoon the way it has, I feel that this rates right up there with the best that they've ever done. But with a wisdom, and the sense of confidence that comes with age (if you're lucky!) that they've never quite had before....do yourself a favor....pick this one up! You won't be sorry."