RELEASE
September 12, 1980
LABEL
Geffen
GENRES
Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, New Wave, College Rock

Album Review

XTC continue on with the big drum sound of Drums and Wires, adding more polish and an even heavier-hitting approach for Black Sea -- their arrangements are fuller and they rock harder than ever before. Where Drums and Wires implied social commentary, Black Sea more directly addresses sociopolitical concerns, handling them not strictly in a theoretical sense, but rather showing a human response to the circumstances. Of course, the band's skewed outlook and mid-'60s pop sense keeps things from becoming too heavy -- included are some of their finest songs, like "Respectable Street," "Generals and Majors," and "Towers of London," as well as the thoroughly enjoyable pop fluff throwaway "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" to keep the mood light. All in all, there isn't a bad song in the bunch -- Black Sea is their most consistent album to date -- and although XTC always operated on the fringes, the album is their most commercial-sounding, fitting in perfectly with the new wave of the late '70s/early '80s. [The 1987 CD reissue adds three tracks -- "Smokeless Zone," "Don't Lose Your Temper," and "The Somnambulist" -- to the middle of the album. And while the extras are welcomed (especially "Don't Lose Your Temper"), they really should have been tacked on to the end rather than disrupting the original.]
Chris Woodstra, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Respectable Street
  2. Generals and Majors
  3. Living Through Another Cuba
  4. Love at First Sight
  5. Rocket From a Bottle
  6. No Language in Our Lungs
  7. Smokeless Zone [*]
  8. Don't Lose Your Temper [*]
  9. The Somnambulist [*]
  10. Towers of London
  11. Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins)
  12. Burning with Optimism's Flames
  13. Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)
  14. Travels in Nihilon