Chips from the Chocolate Fireball (An Anthology)
Conceived in the mid-80s by the members of XTC as a side project to air their 1960s psychedelic inclinations (the band initially disclaimed any involvement with the effort adding to its mysterious allure), the Dukes of Stratosphear released an EP, 25 O’Clock, and an album Psonic Psunspot, compiled here as one collection. The music went beyond any intentions of self-conscious parody and served up convincing retro-psychedelic pop with all the clever and inspired trimmings of the era. Future generations could easily be fooled by a switch-up in copyright date. Excessive reverb that frequently deliberately gobbles up the vocals, sitar-like sounds, cheesy Farfisa organs, jangly 12-string guitars, lush backing harmonies, and lyrics that swallowed the acid tab whole are in abundance throughout. This step out of XTC character gives the band a looseness and freedom that make tunes such as the straightforward pop of “Vanishing Girl,” the trippy, run-a-muck of “My Love Explodes” and the snappy pounce of “Little Lighthouse” among the most irresistible in the group’s entire catalog.