Not a Lemon in the House

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It’s been about seven years since their last record, and here come XTC with layers of enduring majestic pop, unfolding on rich orchestral tones – the London Session Orchestra’s, to be exact. So lay aside all bad-comeback phobias, because XTC is so smooth, melodic and ageless, one would think the band had never missed a beat. In fact, this record could even drive away memories of Andy Partridge refusing to tour and puking from stage fright and turn them into an eternal chasm of pop bliss. And not only that. Apple Venus – finally – finds the crease in XTC’s long, precarious career where its "new" sounds fold back onto its own past. Okay, the CD jacket does show a peacock feather against an all-white cover, and yes, the title includes the word "apple." But leave all handy Beatles references at the door anyway. Apple Venus invents and innovates, with the remote dreaming of "Frivolous Tonight" and the rising ecstasy of role-playing famous couples on "I’d Like That": "I’d be your Albert if you’d be Victoria/I’d smile so much my face would crack in two/ then you could fix it with your kissing glue." It sulks, swoons and sings in euphoric rounds, then promises more of this sweet stuff in the future. Will waiting for Volume Two be a mere pause for breath during a marathon kiss? Or are they just teasing?

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