XTC fell off the map with Mummer, to the extent that many fans assumed that the group broke up after English Settlement. Drummer Terry Chambers, frustrated that the band had quit touring, emigrated to Australia. Partridge recast himself as a composer, virtually relinquishing instrumental duties, so that his energetic rhythm guitar parts are conspicuous by their absence. Coupled with lethargy and some of XTC weakest material, Mummer ranks among XTC’s least accomplished albums.
Moulding certainly isn’t to blame; his forgotten ‘In Loving Memory of a Name’ benefits from the most upbeat and organic arrangements on the album, while ‘Deliver Us From the Elements’ is the one place that the synthesisers work, giving the piece an ominous edge. His sweet single ‘Wonderland’ is a great song, even if its greatness would be more patently obvious if it wasn’t buried beneath layers of dated synthesizers. Partridge contributes the pretty acoustic ‘Love on a Farmboy’s Wages’, but his vitriolic music industry take-down ‘Funk Pop A Roll’ would have benefited from a more organic production, while lesser tracks like ‘Human Alchemy’ and ‘Me and the Wind’ expose his vocal limitations.
On a relatively weak album, the bonus tracks are notable; ‘Desert Island’ and particularly ‘Toys’. There’s still strong material on Mummer, but it’s one of the few XTC albums that’s tangibly second rate.