Wasp Star Apple Venus Volume 2
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'Wasp Star' is the eclectic follow up to the critically acclaimed 'Apple Venus Volume 1', featuring the return to the incisive guitar pop that made XTC legends. 2000 TVT release.
Sidelined by a decade-long "strike" against their former record label, XTC's Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding nonetheless kept themselves busy writing songs and recording demos during the 1990s. The resulting body of work was divvied up stylistically, with the more pastoral/orchestral pieces consigned to Apple Venus Volume One (and Homespun, its accompanying home-demo collection). The brash electric guitar flourish that launches Wasp Star's "Playground" heralds a collection that leans toward the jangly guitars and jagged rhythms of the band's Black Sea and English Settlement prime. Adorned with ornate harmonic flourishes and their trademark pop sophistication, Wasp Star finds creative mainstay Andy Partridge in a distinctly upbeat, romantically intoxicated state of mind (as witnessed by the virtually irony-free "Stupidly Happy"), yet one in which history-bred suspicions die hard. It's Moulding who seems the most melancholy here, with the gentle romantic prodding of "In Another Life" and in the downright gloomy take on his hometown's future, "Boarded Up." Known for occasional pointed social jabs, XTC's focus has become a bit more philosophical with age, Partridge and Moulding perhaps gleaning the wisdom that the hardest battles are sometimes fought on the home front. But if music this joyous and rewarding is the result, it's been the noblest of struggles. --Jerry McCulley
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But this was supposed to be a review of 'Wasp Star' album...
Well, since 'Oranges & Lemmons' I've been hunting and chasing, trying to put my hands on any album of the band (a very, very rare thing in Brazil...). So, I was so excited when I first saw 'Homeground' that I immediately bought it without noticing that was a demo Album... I was kind of disappointed when I realized it reading the credits but all the disappointment was wiped away as soon as I heard the first riff of Andy Partridge's guitar... This was so good that it was really painful to wait until I could laid my hands on the real studio album.
And here it comes! My review!
"Playground" is a fantastic song, with that omnipresent and brilliant sounding riff (full of perfect 5ths and octaves) with a question-answer vocal arrangement.
"Stupidly Happy" also sounds great with that ostinatto riff all the way through the song with melodies and harmonies moving around. It reminds me of Genesis' "Keep It Dark" although the later doesn't have this shiny mood...
The other songs are all ok but my list of favourites jumps to "Church of Heaven" and finally to the best one of them: "The Wheel and the Maypole", originaly 3 different ideas merged in one great song.
I have to confess that this "Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)" stands under the shades of "Orange & Lemmons" and "Apple Venus Volume 1" which I think are the best ones of the band, but I really do recommend this album.