Picks and Pans Review: Skylarking

updated 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Some people wouldn't dare to mention another band in the same breath as the now nearly-canonized Beatles. Yet the comparison isn't far out of line when it comes to this album. For one thing, the British trio has merged the varied sounds of the Beatles from their early pop songs through their psychedelic phase. More important, the three XTC members possess some of the Beatles' skill at writing memorable, original melodies and lyrics. There's no good reason this band has been making albums for a full decade without a major radio hit in the U.S. But if programmers want to atone for the oversight, they could easily put this LP's Earn Enough for Us into the Top 20. With an irresistibly tuneful chorus, the song takes on the upbeat voice of a working-class guy who wants to earn enough money to get married: "Just because we're on the bottom of the ladder/ We shouldn't be sadder than others like us, who have goals for the betterment of life." The message is similar to some Springsteen songs, without the macho posturing. XTC adopts a wide range of voices on Skylarking. Another Satellite sets up a clever metaphor between an unwanted lover and a crowded solar system. Grass, about the kind you sit on and the kind you smoke, turns on nostalgia for the '60s. Dear God, which gives God a drubbing for his lack of mercy, may strike some as blasphemous, but it conveys the frustration with religion that only a believer could feel. Such songs earn XTC a place in the best pop record collections, even if no one ever goes so far as to call them the Fab Three. (Geffen)

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