XTC have always seemed to me like a slightly underground version of the 80s pop superstars. Their legacy is undeniable, their influence is still stated by plenty of modern day bands today, and it’s a name I’m familiar enough with. But they don’t have the kinds of hits that you still hear on commercial radio on the regular. It’s that slightly underground quality that gives them just a little more credibility as far as I’m concerned. I know that’s a little shallow, but nothing makes me assume a band is legit, more than when they always hover just below the mainstream.
That perception could be a million miles from the truth about XTC, but it’s not like I have any kind of worldwide resource or variety of ‘pedia’ to set me straight. Alls I know is, XTC’s Dear God is as close to a perfect song as you’ll ever hear. And that alone is a reason to hear more of what they do. So why not give Go 2 a bash?
Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!) is a herky jerky bounce of jangled guitars, gloriously 80s synths (before their time) and even a hint of harpsichord. The fact that Go 2 came out in 1978, but has such a quintessential 80s sound makes me think this ground breaking sound must be a big part of what made XTC such a stand out band at the time.
Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian) sounds like it’s the soundtrack to a Tim Burton nightmare sequence. It’s spooky, but not because it’s trying to be. It’s spooky because it’s so hard to pin it down and know what’s coming next. Buzzcity Talking turns that Burtonesque nightmare into a Burtonesque nightmare montage, where the unpredictable weirdness continues in tempo and rhythm to keep you on your toes for seven minutes of music that still has me to confused as to whether I loved or hated it.
While the opener was a hint of what 80s pop would be so dominated by, Crowded Room is a great prediction of 80s guitar alt rock. Until the chorus sounds like a deranged circus ride. My constant confusion by this album was only increased with the ska sounds of Red.
In a way, Go 2 sounds like compilation album where every song was written by a different band, but hey all just happen to have the same singer. The eclecticness is unfocused and kind of a mess. But it’s a glorious mess that only gets more interesting as it grows. Never frustratingly disconnected or unfocused.
Way down in the track listing is My Weapon, a core blimey cockney rock and roll knees up. It could be ironic comment on this kind of music and the misogyny that comes with it, but I’ll be buggered if I didn’t like it for what are probably the wrong reasons. Its drive and cocky delivery are a great sign of some post punk I never would have thought XTC was capable of. Super-Tuff seems like a similar take on a those same geezers being addressed in My Weapon.
With my entire knowledge of XTC built on Dear God before now, the biggest surprise from Go 2 is how sonically silly, light and jaunty it is. Dear God is such a sombre, serious, gut wrenching song, it’s amazing to think this is what the same band sounded like a few years earlier. The unique vocals of Andy Partridge are an undeniable link, but while Go 2 has kept me just as intrigued by XTC as I ever was, it’s now for different reasons.