Monday, July 29, 2013

Album Review: "Black Sea" by XTC

My knowledge of New Wave is pretty sketchy. Even when it was popular in my preadolescence I was into metal. Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Kiss, etc. XTC never caught my attention. However, it does appear that this was certainly my loss.

From the word go this album pops off in all directions. Black Sea is a very good title for this record. Whilst sitting with it coming through the headphones it feels like you're the captain of an 1800's sailing vessel as it paws its way over stormy seas and you're hearing what the men are doing down below. It's a truly pleasing experience.

They have been labeled power pop, but this album is pure new wave. It's the perfect marriage of synthesizers and instruments. It would be hard to really nail down what this group is doing in terms of a genre. From dirty rock riffs, to ska choruses, to new wave synth, it really feels like they leave no stone unturned.

This album has some of the most delightful multiple personality syndrome ever heard on record. To be a fly on the wall during any process of its creation would be a wondrous and eye opening experience.

The concentration it must have taken to arrange these songs, much less write them, would have to be gargantuan. It's as though they were trying to be a progressive rock band but they thought that they could easily accomplish the same things an eight minute song does, but in only four minutes without cutting anything.

There never seems to be any single direction in which this band is heading.  They are all over the map at all times. I really don't know how to explain this album other than metaphorically. It's a bit more proper to say that perhaps this album is the soundtrack to a dream that one of them had about being the captain of a wooden sailing vessel from the 19th Century. I can almost hear the limes as they're consumed on the deck. The distance of the voices makes me taste the saltwater.

It would take anywhere from twenty five to fifty close listenings of this album to hear everything they put in there. It's not that they are hiding, but there is just so much there. It's along the lines of the fried rice theory, but it's only a half order's worth of fried rice placed into a whole order's container.

Check this band out.

Year: 1980
Genre: Rock, New Wave


1) Respectable Street
2) Generals And Majors
3) Living Through Another Cuba
4) Love At First Sight
5) Rocket From A Bottle
6) No Language In Our Lungs
7) Smokeless Zone
8) Don't Lose Your Temper
9) The Somnambulist
10) Towers of London
11) Paper and Iron (Notes And Coins)
12) Burning With Optimism's Flames
13) Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)
14) Travels In Nihilon

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