• Axel

Skylarking by XTC

There will always be a "Ballet for a Rainy Day".

This album is a staple in my childhood. My mother first played "Summer's Cauldron" in her little Suzuki Rodeo for me at 8 years old. The nature sounds on the opening track, still to this day, make my ears flinch and gather their attention. The album art provokes a sense of Satyrs dancing and playing tunes for your ears. I loved the album art for this album, its simple and thought provoking (Kanye take note). The flow of the album is definitely meant to be listened to in two track sections. "Summer's Cauldron" flows without missing a single second into "Grass" matching the sound, energy, and feel perfectly. "Ballet for a Rainy Day" flows into "1000 Umbrellas" just the same, and I will talk about these songs.

Opening with crickets and summer's noise, "Summer's Cauldron" invokes the mystic feeling of a summer's sunset. "Drowning here in summers cauldrons/under mats of flower lava" brings to mind sweet nothings on flower beds full of steaming summer love. Also sweat, massive amounts of sweat. The soft flow of the song meshed with soft undertones of guitar and the continuing summer noise just warm the heart so well. This is a song you could fall asleep to, I certainly have. "Grass" comes in with the guitar and strings coming to the forefront of the song, the sounds of summer changing to match the new track. "Grass" continues the similes of love and summer's activities, coming to a conclusion of summer's sound, just as "Summer's Cauldron" opened with.

"Ballet for a Rainy Day" opens with strong lyrics, forward guitar with piano and soft drums. The song invokes a strong sense of wonder and mystery. Clearly, the singer is sad of the rain. But at the same time, he wants to find fun in the rain. "Dancing out my wind to the slow descending wave" "when it rains, it rains all the colors in my paintbox" really paint someone who wants to find happy in the sadness of rain. The colorful guitar matched with the piano really gets you energized for the next track, "1000 Umbrellas". "1000 Umbrellas" starts with a decent into sadness, no warning found here before it depresses you. "Before I floated down stream to a place called misery" sing a song of dread and depression. This is a man who is saddened by the rain, depressed by the umbrellas ruining his view of the world in rain. These two songs are the highlight of the album, happy to sad perfectly married and portrayed.

This album is nostalgia

of a time without bills or work, but "do you ever stop to wonder/about the clouds or the hail and thunder"? This album is gold, hence why its remastered every few years and the original records go for hundreds of dollars. Check it out! Its worth a listen!

Post script: XTC was featured on a local radio back in the '90s. My mom called in and the station recorded me singing "That's really Super, Supergirl" at age 5. Yeah, I'm embarrassed.

(Album art was taken from Google Images.)

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