TC&I – Great Aspirations

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Release Date: 10/07/17

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Photo: Spill Magazine

The surprising EP release from XTC alum’s Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers, aptly named the very tongue-in-cheek TC&I (Terry Chambers & “I” being Colin Moulding. Also a nod of sorts to the name XTC itself), does an excellent job of scratching the proverbial itch left behind in XTC’s long time absence. Before delving into the songs themselves, it should be mentioned the production on this release is excellent. It’s a very good sounding recording with some very tasteful overdubs, variety of instrumentation and overall arrangement.

“Scatter Me” starts the EP out with an upbeat, feel-good sound, led by a piano line, and a very Colin, very catchy chorus. The lyrics are also very Colin, which continues throughout the EP. It’s hard to describe what is meant by something being very… someone, but here it is. I think it has something to do with the mix of introspection and self-reflection, as well as the frequent mention of places. I feel so English listening to this EP, which after visiting England, as well as having colleagues in Milton-Keynes, I very much know I’m not. Yet, Colin has the profound ability of sending you to a time and place. If your love of XTC approaches anywhere near the level of mine, the first 30 seconds or so of this track will bring you immense joy – it sounds so much like XTC are back. One of the most striking things about this release is that Colin’s voice sounds as good as it did on 1992’s Nonsuch. I admit I’m a little confused by how his voice sounded on Apple Venus, Vol. 1 (1999) and Wasp Star (2000). It sounded as if he aged a couple decades between releases. Somehow though, he sounds younger again. This is what being inspired sounds like I suppose. To top this all off, it’s also neat hearing Terry Chambers noticeable drum style over what is ostensibly latter-day XTC.

“Greatness (The Aspiration Song)” most strongly corresponds with the aforementioned self-reflection I ascribed to Colin. I’m confident many long-time fans are about ready to consider XTC’s legacy right along with Colin. The guitar line carries the main melodic hook in this song, and like much the rest of the EP, it is about equally likely to get caught in your head.

“Kenny” has a real bouncy feel, with again, very catchy melodic vocal and musical hooks. The melody is largely carried by a guitar riff, which is actually quite atypical of XTC. The clapping in the chorus, and the vocal and horn-led bridge is actually incredibly catchy (that “da-dee da-dee da-da-da“). The guitar leads are also very hook-laden. This song is quite possibly most reminiscent of the Andy Partridge penned “Stupidly Happy.” At least that’s one of the few XTC songs based on a guitar riff that I can think of. Andy Partridge, primary songwriter of XTC, actually singled out “Scatter Me” and “Kenny” as his favorite cuts from the EP. Now if only he’d written 8 songs to make it a full XTC album…

“Comrades of Pop” is a largely synth-based affair, perhaps best described as “glorious” sounding. It almost sounds like a sequel to “Sacrificial Bonfire” from 1986’s Skylarking. At least, that’s its closest parallel. A triumphant way of ending the EP.

There is technically one shortfall of this album: it really sounds like late XTC. If you don’t like XTC, for one, you’re a sick bastard, but you also probably won’t much care for this. Much to my chagrin, I’ve found XTC’s idiosyncratic approach to songwriting is, begrudgingly, simply not for everyone. I also wish this release were longer, but that’s not really a fault, is it?

There is 0% chance that if you love later XTC you will not really like this EP. If you’re one of the many sad souls really missing XTC, bassist Colin Moulding and drummer Terry Chambers have graciously provided a remedy for you. More please.

Highlights: It’s an EP. The whole thing’s a highlight.
Rating: 4.5/5
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