Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) by XTC

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Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) by XTC
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) by XTC

Album Released: 2000

Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) ::: Artwork

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2.Stupidly Happy4:13
3.In Another Life3:35
4.My Brown Guitar3:51
5.Boarded Up3:23
6.I'm The Man Who Murdered Love3:44
7.We're All Light4:39
8.Standing In For Joe3:42
9.Wounded Horse4:11
10.You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful4:18
11.Church Of Women5:06
12.The Wheel And The Maypole5:55


Although Wasp Star is tons of fun, Moulding dropped the ball here. His songs are clever, but two of them bring the album to a jarring halt - only "In Another Life" is enjoyable - and his voice is at its smarmiest and most boring throughout. But I'd vouch for every single one of Partridge's numbers, even the comic blues "Wounded Horse".

Partridge is proof postive that creativity still existed in the music industry, as he plasters every song with dirty guitar effects, unexpected chord changes, and fantastically inventive percussion. If you can get past his voice, which is actually bearable here, then all his songs are enjoyable, especially the giddy pickup-line-fest "We're All Light", and the riffy "The Wheel and the Maypole".

It's all pretty slick, but that just goes to show how much effort XTC put into making this album, and if the songs go down easy, it's because Partridge had spent the preceding seven years perfecting his hook-writing.

So XTC created a timeless album with Wasp Star - it's not perfect, but it's not tied to any era or passing fad either, so in 2050 say, when we're all wondering why we went ga-ga over average grunge/rock like Creed, Wasp Star will still be enjoyable.

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by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben

Wasp Star clears out the residue of unpublished songs Partridge and Moulding had written between 1995 and 1998.

Instead of the grandiose orchestral textures of Apple Venus, this collection stays in more conventional pop/rock territory. And it's nowhere near as interesting as Apple Venus - the songwriting is decent enough, although "My Brown Guitar" comes across as a crap Supergrass rip-off.

The major issue with Wasp Star is that it lacks musical conviction The rockers don't rock as much as they should, and XTC's traditional instrumental characteristics are sadly lacking, for while Partridge does a competent job at soloing, Gregory's deft touches on guitars and keyboard are sadly missed, and Moulding's bass is inexplicably down in the mix (my parent's stereo has a ridiculously loud 'Dynamic Bass Boost' function, and Wasp Star is unusual in that it doesn't threaten to destroy the house's foundations).

The paucity of instrumental firepower is the primary reason why Wasp Star doesn't stand up to repeat listens particularly well. Still, while Moulding's songwriting sucked badly on Nonsuch and Apple Venus, he does regain some semblance of his previous ability here - his songs are designed to be low-key, so Gregory isn't missed as badly as he is on Partridge's songs.

I particularly like the twangy little acoustic riff on "Boarded Up", while "In Another Life" and "Standing in for Joe" are quaint and charming. Meanwhile, the first two minutes of Partridge's "The Wheel and the Maypole" is arguably the most commercially viable piece of music XTC ever created, although the 'Maypole' part isn't as interesting. And "Playground", "Stupidly Happy", "We're All Light", and "Church of Women" all have their moments, although the rock potential of the first two isn't milked adequately.

So while it's initially enjoyable, Wasp Star doesn't fulfil its potential, lacking the depth of previous XTC releases. Still, it is a commendable shot at a rock album for two ageing Englishmen, and is probably a tad better than my rating suggests, which is partially due to my disappointment with the album.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])