Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

XTC: Black Sea [Virgin/RSO, 1980]
Virtuosos shouldn't show off--it's bad manners and bad art. I'm suitably dazzled by the breathless pace of their shit--from folk croak to Beach Boys croon in the twinkling of a track, with dissonant whatnot embellishing herkyjerk whozis throughout--but I find their refusal to flow graceless two ways. On what do they predicate their smartypants rights? On words that rarely reclaim clichés about working-class futility, middle-class hypocrisy, militarist atrocity--not to mention love like rockets and girls who glow. They do, however, show real feeling for teen males on the make and, hmm, the recalcitrance of language. B+