Whoever put this packaging together deserves a stern reprimand - the order of the songs listed on the back bears no relation to the order they play on the CD. So, since a couple of songs don't have any obvious chorus to announce the title, I was left guessing which one I was listening to.
Since XTC probably aren't responsible for that goof, I don't hold them accountable. I will however hold them accountable for making stiff rhythms and obnoxious lyrics. For although many of these melodies are quite beautiful ("Generals and Majors" / "King for a Day" / "Grass" / "The Disappointed"), and are supported by lush arrangements and warm production - especially on the guitar tones - this band just doesn't know how to catch a groove.
Even the 'funky' numbers "Funk Pop a Roll" and "Life Begins at the Hop" are built on awkward, ahead-of-the-beat riffs that drive the beat into the ground, rather than riding on top of it. This rhythmic clubfootedness seriously hampers my enjoyment of otherwise well-written tunes.
Vocally, the group leaves much to be desired as well. These guys just don't have the lung power (or the ability to hit notes) to deliver these melodies as well as they deserve to be sung. You know you're in trouble when you sing about as well as the ten-year-old girl featured in a guest spot.
Whilst the tunes are well-written, I must also take serious objection to a lot of the lyrics. XTC give the impression of being self-righteous prigs with a long list of things that are wrong (the music business, religion, middle-class values, capitalism, girls that don't like XTC) and a short list of things that are right (the opinions of XTC).
by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton
(blogging at Steve's Record Reviews