XTC came out of self-imposed retirement in 1999 with this beautiful orchestral-pop-prog album. From the opening track, "River of Orchids", with its evocative dripping strings to the elegiac closing track "The Last Balloon", XTC cover a myriad of emotional and musical ideas. There's the pagan sensuality and grandeur of "Greenman", which summons up images of The Wicker Man and dark doings in English churchyards. There's the barely-restrained rage in the magnificent break-up song "Your Dictionary": "F-U-C-K Is that how you spell friend in your dictionary?" Then there's the rejoicing "Easter Theatre", the Brian Wilsonesque "I Can't Own Her" and the nostalgic "Harvest Festival". Throughout the album the arrangements and musicianship are never less than arresting, often startling, and the songs are sublime.
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