Monday, October 18, 2010

Stupidly Happy...

...if only.

But, when I listen to this song, I get pretty damn close.

This is one of the many reasons Andy Partridge should have a statue, with all due respect to the genius of Colin Moulding.

Read this first:

Anyone expecting Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Vol. 2 to continue the majestic acoustic-orchestral blends of Apple Venus will be disappointed, because it's a straightforward collection of sharp, witty, well-constructed pop songs. Directness is perhaps the oddest thing about Wasp Star - it's unassuming pop from a band that operated on a conceptual plain for nearly 20 years. It could be argued that all the songs that fit a dark, introspective mood went to Apple Venus, XTC's first album after seven years in exile, while Wasp Star wound up as a clearinghouse for everything else. If that is true, it ignores a basic fact -- XTC's leftovers are better than most band's keepers. "Leftovers" isn't quite an accurate term, either. These songs are orphans, tunes without a particular project, which may mean that Wasp Star is an album of moments, but there's plenty to cherish here. Colin Moulding is in fine shape, with the spare "Boarded Up" and the clever "Standing in for Joe." Andy Partridge has a few tricks up his sleeve -- his compositions are heavy on electric guitars, he builds "Wounded Horse" around a blues riff, and "You and the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful" is just about the breeziest thing he's ever written -- but for the most part, he's in pop craftsman mode, turning out expert, layered tunes that may not push his talents but certainly exploit his capabilities to their fullest. After all, most pop bands would give their eyeteeth to have songs as smart, melodic, and memorable as "Playground," "Stupidly Happy," "My Brown Guitar" and "I'm the Man Who Murdered Love" as their orphans -- and if these constitute an average XTC album, that's a testament to what a terrific band they are

That was Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AMG.


Let's take "Stupidly Happy," a song that begins on a riff, and slowly builds, piece by piece, to a pop masterpiece.

Listen and follow.



(Guitar & drums, with Andy's heart "pumping wine.")

I'm stupidly happy
Everything's fine
I'm stupidly happy
My heart pumping wine
I'm stupidly happy
With idiot grin
I'm stupidly happy
It's surely a sin

"All the birds of the air call your name as they land on my kitchen roof/all the fish in the lake do the same should you need extra proof."

Here comes the tambourine at exactly 1:00. (Nice touch)

I'm stupidly happy
My vision is skewed
I'm stupidly happy
I'm coming unscrewed

And if the Devil walks up dressed in any disguise
I'll take him by the collars look him in the eye

And now...the bass...1:25.

"I'm stupidly happy, now you're my defense. I'm stupidly happy, this world's making sense."

1:41, sweet guitar overlay.

"I'm stupidly happy, I roll like a train/I'm stupidly happy
With you in my brain "

2:00, here comes the bass again.

"All the lights of the cars in the town form the strings of a big guitar. (Cue: Power chord) "I'm a giant who'll play you a tune for wherever you are."


I'm stupidly happy
Like the words to that song
I'm stupidly happy
No nothing's not wrong
And should the Devil drive up with his business card out
I'll tear it to confetti with a grin and shout,
I'm stupidly happy
All of the time

2:58, "doot'n dooo/doot'n dooo/doot'n dooo"

I'm stupidly happy
Now you're mine



Grey said...

God, I miss that band so much. They might be the closest we'll ever get to another Beatles.

A few years ago there was word that Andy was going to be collaborating with Robyn Hitchcock. This was absolutely thrilling news for me - two of my favorite geniuses, together at last! Unfortunately, Robyn would never stop touring long enough for them to get much of anything accomplished.

Shriner said...

"Standing In For Joe" -- while dug out from the never-to-be-finished Bubblegum album sessions -- is one of my absolute favorite Colin Moulding songs.

But, yes "Stupidly Happy" is one of the many brilliant songs on that disc. I believe AP described it as a riff Keith Richards apparently never stumbled upon. I can certainly hear that.

Aaron said...

I remember when the album came out A.P. did an NPR interview where he talks about how after having his wife leave him and fighting some prostate issue, he found new love, and this is how he felt. Such good stuff.

Noam Sane said...

Fantastic. I don't think anything is ever going to top "Mayor of Simpleton" but this comes mighty close.

I can see I'm going to have an XTC-fest for the next few weeks...a sudden urge has taken hold. Been too long.

Anonymous said...

Loved the song, really loved the way you wrote about it.

Made my listening even more involving.


Anything Should Happen said...

Can I just say that Andy Partridge is God. Thanks for that Sal!

The first Apple Venus was a marked departure. Wasp Star was XTC as XTC are.

Every song a cracker and two unmentioned wonders are the superb Church Of Women and the Wheel and The Maypole closer.

If Wasp Star is the last of XTC that we see, what a testament.

The quality of their music from Black Sea onwards is outstanding and the thought of a Partridge - Hitchcock collaboration mouth watering.

Paul said...

Great post and terrific write up. Not more I can add. Thanks Sal! Perhaps this will turn some people on to one the greatest under rated bands of all time.