This is Part 2 of the review. Don’t forget to read Part 1 for the introduction!
The original album had 11 songs, and the CD rerelease 14. If we had to summarize what XTC achieved here in one word, that would be “consistency”. The album is a true work, and in certain places it feels like a continuous track (some songs actually run into each other).
It is not an easy task picking favorites this time – as I said, there is such a sense of unity that the album is one of the most rewarding listening experiences within XTC’s catalog. What I can do is pick out personal favorites: these would be any of the singles plus the splenetic “Paper & Iron” and “Burning With Optimism’s Flames”. “Paper & Iron” has my favorite performance from Terry on any of their albums – he carries the whole song, takes it wherever he wants and finishes it with a detonation the kind Keith Moon would be proud of. For its part, “Burning With Optimism’s Flames” has a mesmerizing chorus that makes the title of the composition become more than a mere asseveration. Rather, it turns into a true validation for pushing forwards no matter what. Continue reading