Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

XTC: Drums and Wires [Virgin, 1979]
My reservations about this tuneful but willfully eccentric pop are ideological. With its playful clash of cross-currents (crossed wires, really, to go with the jingle drums) it's just a "Complicated Game"--like everything else under the sun, Andy Partridge believes. This idea is an attitude rather than an analysis, and it assures that the music's underlying passion will be strictly formal. But I like games, especially three-handed hearts or this record--which require concentration but not lifetime dedication, and Partridge and Colin Moulding are moving toward a great art-pop mean that will set standards for the genre. Catchy, funny, interesting--and it rocks. A-