Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
Wasp Star clears out the songs that Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding wrote between 1995 and 1998. Instead of the grandiose orchestral textures of Apple Venus, Wasp Star stays in more conventional pop/rock territory. Dave Gregory quit the band at the end of the Apple Venus sessions after tensions with Partridge, and his absence is crucial here; it’s a below average batch of XTC songs, and they especially needed Gregory’s input to make them come to life.
Again Moulding’s contributions are recycled from earlier projects, but they’re a little stronger this time; still low key. And again Partridge is doing the heavy lifting, and the strongest songs are at the end, with ‘Church of Women’ and closer ‘The Wheel and the Maypole’ the highlights. If Apple Venus is Partridge’s divorce album, Wasp Star is his lust album, and he uses an exuberant amount of crass metaphors like “I’ve got the rabbit/If you’ve his burrow home”. Partridge also gets a lot of mileage from a simple riff on ‘Stupidly Happy’ and there’s a passable piece of dance-able pop on ‘We’re All Light’.
Even allowing for Gregory’s absence, Wasp Star is one of XTC’s least compelling albums, but it’s well worth hearing for its best tracks.