Consumer Guide Album
XTC: Skylarking [Geffen, 1986]
Imagine Sgt. Pepper if McCartney hadn't needed Lennon--if he hadn't been such a wet--and you'll get an inkling of what these insular popsters have damn near pulled off. Granted, there's barely a hint of overarching significance, but after all, this isn't 1967. With Todd Rundgren sequencing and twiddling those knobs, they continue strong for the first nine or ten (out of fourteen) songs. Only when the topics become darker and more cosmic do they clutter things with sound and whimsy; as long as they content themselves with leisurely, Shelleyan evocations of summer love and the four seasons, they'll draw you into their world if you give them the chance--most enticingly on a song called "Grass," about something good to do there.