Review of Apple Venus, Volume 1

This is the first major studio release by XTC since Nonsuch in 1992. Fortunately, the band sounds as good as ever, and even better in spots. Most of the tracks on this album have a full, orchestral sound to them. The tracks on this album are:

River Of Orchids
I often tend to have a problem with long songs. Therefore, when a song is almost six minutes long, and I hardly even notice the length, the band must be doing something right. This track is a great opener, and showcases the orchestra quite well. The lyrics are a bit repetitive, but they still manage to showcase Andy Partridge's poetic talent.

I'd Like That
This is basically just a cute little love song. It's catchy and fun. There really isn't much more to say about it.

Easter Theatre
This is another showcase for the orchestra, with an excellent sound to it. Although the music is the highlight here, the words also contain some good ideas, like the repeated "Now the son has died, the father can be born."

Knights In Shining Karma
This song has been compared to "Blackbird" and "Julia." I like both of those Beatles numbers better than this XTC one, though. "Knights" has a good sound to it, but it's a bit dull. It's short, though, and I suppose it can be viewed as a bit of filler.

Frivolous Tonight
This is one of Colin Moulding's two contributions to the album. It's sort of an easy listening song, but, unlike much of that genre, this song actually IS easy to listen to. As you might expect from the title, it's fairly frivolous, but it's still a good song. The lead vocal is a highlight here, featuring Colin as we haven't often heard him in the past.

Green Man
Although it has some tough competition, this is probably my favourite track on the album. It has a very lush sound, and cleverly simple lyrics.

Your Dictionary
Many critics seem to like this one, hailing it as one of the album's highlights. I can't really agree on this. It seems to me to be overly bitter. While there's not necessarily anything wrong with bitterness in a song, it doesn't really work here. There are a few good parts to this song, but it's not really a personal favourite.

Fruit Nut
Colin's second song ranks with "I'd Like That" as one of the most fun songs on this record. A catchy tune is paired with lyrics in which silly fruit-related puns abound.

I Can't Own Her
Like "Knights In Shining Karma," this one is well-done, with a pretty sound to it, but a little bit boring.

Harvest Festival
Neville Farmer describes this song as "confusing the school ceremony of harvest festival with that of marriage." This works better than you might think. Not only are the lyrics excellent, but the music features some interesting work with recorders. Well, they sound kind of like recorders. If anyone could tell me what the instruments actually are, I'd be much obliged. Whatever they are, they fit quite well into the song.

The Last Balloon
This song has some good sentiment to it, but it seems like a bit of a low note on which to end the album. I suppose it was inevitable that it would be the last track, though, since it does have that pesky word "last" in the title.

This is an excellent-sounding album, but it might not be as accessible to the general public as some of XTC's releases. If you want an introduction to the band, try something like English Settlement or Skylarking. For XTC fans, however, this album is a must-have.

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