XTC, White Music

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 03.28.11 in Reviews

White Music

Barely recognizable as the band they became

The XTC that recorded its January 1978 debut is barely recognizable as the polished studio-only ensemble remembered for “Dear God” and other ’80s and ’90s college-rock hits. This one is frantically fast, herky-jerky, super tight and lacking the overdubbed layers that eventually helped define XTC. Guitarist Andy Partridge puts his punk voice on; like the frontmen of most contemporary young English bands, he sings as if emulating Johnny Rotten’s bug-eyed stare. Barry Andrews’s carnival-organ-on-speed riffs distinguish the band during an era that had only begun to embrace the keyboards that would soon shape New Wave. Most of the melodies are considerably simpler than what the band would produce only a year later when Andrews was replaced with second guitarist Dave Gregory, but enthusiastic hooks are abundant, particularly on the singles “Statue of Liberty” and “This Is Pop.” XTC plays each frantic note as if willing itself out of Swindon, a South West England town so sleepy it’s yet to produce another significant rock band.