It is always difficult for musicians associated with a past name act to bring fresh music to the table without people trying to join dots and name check, extrapolate and reference, particularly if that previous act was one which rose over the years from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures. And so Colin Moulding and Terry Chamber’s first post-XTC collaboration arrives amid a flurry of speculation but I’m sure they want nothing better that to see this e.p. as a new start, a thing apart, a line drawn underneath the past rather than part of some fan envisaged ex-TC canon.
After all in many ways the sound of XTC was often defined by the guitar playoffs between Andy’s angular pop approach and Dave’s more florid musical statements so with that no longer part of the equation we get to fully appreciate Colin’s own English pop vision. And with so much to look back on from a certain point in the arc of life it is not surprising that it is a very reflective vision, Scatter Me dealing with the inevitability of returning to the mere building blocks of the universe but in doing so remaining part of the landscape you spent your life in and Greatness discussing the high aspirations of the e.p.s title.
Comrades of Pop is the track that will be most discussed by the fans and followers, probably more for lyrical content as for anything else. It is the sound of lines being very much drawn under the past, the squawk of cats amongst pigeons, the distant smell of smoke from bridges burning and a reflective overview which probably applies to any number of bands.
What Colin and Terry have created here is something tasteful, deftly wrought, restrained and wonderfully English, West Country…. Swindonian even, if you are close enough to get the references. It is in turns lyrically funny, emotive and poignant and falls into a sort of alternative pop territory that seems to be done so well in this country evoking the likes of Martin Newell and Billy Childish, perhaps not sonically but coming from a similar musical mindset. In short, triumph and hopefully merely the first chapter of a new musical novel.