English Settlementis a watershed work for XTC that provides a valuable link between the band they had been (caustic, high pitched, and quirky) and the band they became (sublime, pastoral, and still undeniably quirky). It reveals a band in transition, … see full wiki
unless you mention the super-awesome hit, "Senses Working Overtime", a lot of xtc fans don't usually seem to have so much to say about this album, at least compared to the exuberance demonstrated for stuff like _Drums and Wires_ or _Skylarking_ (although, your experiences with others' tastes may vary). The reason can only be...this is a pop album of epic proportions! Pop listeners cannot handle such a monstrosity. And when I listened to it, I found myself getting distracted by the thought of "how long can this album be???" and it is not like _English Settlement_ has lots more songs than other XTC works (and even fifteen songs is kind of a lot), but the songs on average must be one to two minutes longer. THESE ARE HUGE NUMBERS FOR POP MUSIC. It is also a sort of "transitional album," being both preceded and followed by a distinctive era of the band. This also contributes to the unique nature of _English Settlement_. While it has the heavy bass and drums of early sound, it has the later period's incredible ear for electro-acoustic pop arrangement. Twelve-string guitar is everywhere and it sounds greatly poppy. The songs are so incredibly great I can't even talk about them all individually. Maybe I will only mention the "Jason and the Argonauts", with a surprising interlude of non-modulating psych over the main melodic theme, that goes for almost two minutes. but I could do equally well to mention numerous other sparkles of genius, from the rhythmically irregular super-catchy 4-bit synth line bouncing along "Fly on the Wall", or the subtle renaissance flavor the "Senses Working Overtime" verses, or the gradual but intense percussion build up of "It's Nearly Africa", or "English Roundabout" which is like a poppier Gentle Giant, or...whatever, it's great. Pick it up.
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