I’ve long professed that XTC is probably without a doubt my favorite band, but I’ve never really ventured to pick a favorite album. There are just too many. Skylarking puts me in a good mood like no other album. Nonsuch and Mummer have what I think is some of Andy Partridge’s most brilliant lyrical work. Apple Venus (vol. 1) was a pleasant surprise, following Dave Gregory’s departure from the band. But anyway. I’m ready to do it. I’ve decided to commit. My favorite XTC album is:

Oranges and Lemons

I love this album the most because it’s the best example of what I love most about XTC. Follow that? Good. What I love most about XTC is that it’s good pop music, and I think Oranges and Lemons is far and away their best Pop album: tight, catchy songs and excellent production (self-produced, even). I’d say it’s probably one of the best pop rock albums of all time, aside from the only potential disqualification, song-length: the opening song alone is over 5 minutes long – a pop rock no-no.

Dave Gregory’s guitar-playing really shines on this record, as does Colin Moulding’s bass playing: Mayor of Simpleton has one of my favorite basslines of all time.

It was my first XTC album, which may have something to do with why I now cite it as my favorite. Or, conversely, it could be because it’s also the album currently in my car. I’ll let you know next week when I switch to a different album if that album is now my favorite.

If you’ve never heard this album, or have never heard XTC at all, before, I’d heartily recommend giving it a listen. It’s an album that really stands the test of time: it was released in 1989, but you’d probably never be able to guess that by listening to it. It’s a good representative sample of what I think of as “classic” XTC.