Artist Spotlight: XTC
June 2000

Unable to release a record for seven years due to contractual disputes, England's eccentric pop enthusiasts XTC found themselves with not one, but two albums worth of exquisitely crafted material. Free to record again, the band shepherded the lusher, more orchestrated pop songs on to 1999's Apple Venus Volume 1, and the guitar driven rock songs to their more recent Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2).

Emerging from the late '70s punk and new wave explosion, XTC revolves around the creative coupling of core members guitarist Andy Partridge and bassist Colin Moulding, both of whom contribute songs to Wasp Star. Partridge, with intricate, meticulously honed melodies presents a bittersweet outlook, acknowledging wonder and weariness with life's travails.

While the bulk of XTC's writing falls on the shoulders of Partridge, Colin Moulding's more straightforward and linear songs offer a refreshing change. On "Standing In For Joe", he sings a breezy tale of a man who falls into his best friend's footsteps a bit too well as he keeps his wife company.

One of the most intelligent and consistently fascinating British pop bands since The Beatles, critics' darlings XTC have yet to receive the mainstream success they deserve. But as their obsessive following can attest, after 20 years of recording and releasing records culminating in Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2), XTC's sweet sting still intoxicates pop music fans of all ages.

"I just like good melodies"

- Colin Moulding

"I like songs that have hidden corners.
I like structures that surprise.

I like architecture
with hidden niches and folly,
buildings that try to expand
and trick and delight.

I think architecture
and music
are pretty closely

- Andy Partridge


"I don't want people to think of Wasp Star as all the tracks that weren't fit enough to go on Volume 1 - that's not the case.

It's two different animals.
We had pigs that we herded into one area, and we had sheep that we herded into another.

Go back to Chalkhills Articles.

Transcribed and captured by John Relph.