Skylarking is the ninth studio album by the English rock band XTC, released 27 October 1986 on Virgin Records. Produced by American musician Todd Rundgren, it is a loose concept album about a nonspecific cycle, such as a day, a year, the seasons, or a life. The title refers to a type of bird (skylark), as well as the Royal Navy term "skylarking", which means "fooling around". It became one of XTC's best-known albums and is generally regarded as their finest work.Like XTC's previous Dukes of Stratosphear side project, Skylarking was heavily influenced by the music of the 1960s. Most of its recording was at Rundgren's Utopia Sound Studio in Woodstock, New York. Rundgren played a large role in the album's sound design and drum programming, providing the band with orchestral arrangements and an assortment of gear. However, the sessions were fraught with tension, especially between Rundgren and bandleader Andy Partridge, and numerous disagreements arose over drum patterns, song selections, and other details. In 2010, it was discovered that a wiring error made during the mastering process caused the album to have a "thin" sound. The problem was corrected on subsequent remasters. Upon release, Skylarking was met with indifference in the UK, rising in the album charts to number 90, while both of its lead singles "Grass" (backed with "Dear God") and "The Meeting Place" peaked at number 100. Early sales of the album were hampered by the omission of "Dear God" from the album's original pressings. In the US, the song became a college radio hit, causing US distributor Geffen Records to recall and repress Skylarking with the track included, and propelling the album to number 70. Following the song's growth in popularity, it was the subject of controversy in the US, inspiring many angry phone calls to radio stations and at least one bomb threat. Skylarking was later listed on "100 greatest albums of the 1980s" lists by Rolling Stone in 1989 and Pitchfork in 2002.Wikipedia
An old friend of mine and his father were into XTC, but I never listened to them. Let me say: what a fucking album. It flows together incredibly, the sound is somewhere between Genesis, The Beatles, and Duran Duran, and this thing has hooks for days. Blown away, really. Favorite tracks: "That's Really Super, Supergirl", "Ballet for a Rainy Day", "Earn Enough for Us"
For the longest time, XTC was "bad Tears For Fears" in my mind, and I never actually sought to listen to them outside of Dear God; listening to this has kind of reinforced that idea, and Dear God isn't even *great*.
Everything pop could be. Amazing.
incredible album, every song was banger after banger 10/10
XTC released a lot of memorable records in the 80's and Skylarking might be their masterpiece. It's a lush sounding album that highlights the band at their height of creativity. Not a record full of hits, it's a consistent, solid album that flows beautifully and Dear God is one the most interesting (and greatest) songs the band has ever produced!
This is one of the best pop albums I've ever heard. This kinda thing is why I do this 1001 album challenge; to find albums I'd never find otherwise. I don't ever listen to music like this, so I never would have found this alone. It's fascinating how so many songs are so catchy and yet so unpredictable; the melody often wanders to places you don't expect. It's quite refreshing to hear pop music that's actually interesting. reminds me of The Seeds Of Love by Tears for Fears
Such an interesting and fun album about nature, love, and simpler times from 80z gems, XTC. I love GRASS! Multiple other favs on this cool album are The Meeting Place, Ballet For A Rainy Day, Season Cycle, Earn Enough For Us, Big Day, and Dying. I remember when single Dear God first got air play and I was like "wow!" and "what?" Still such a unique and thought-provoking song. XTC continues to be a band one can get deep into. Sometimes at first listen it's easy to miss something. Look at all of these 80z bands standing out from this list. So excellent!
Inoffensive very 60s but pretty bland
This is a little too cutesy for me, but it reminds me of the first two Eno records in a way, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
“Skylarking” by XTC (1986) First time listen for this album and group. The question is, which album am I listening to here? The original vinyl release (without “Dear God”), the updated release (with “Dear God” but without “Mermaid Smiled”), or one of several digital re-releases which have “Dear God” in various positions among the last four tracks (or simply tacked on at the very end in the Spotify version)? For a concept album, it makes a huge difference, especially since “Dear God”, “Mermaid Smiled”, and “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” are the three most interesting songs on the album. What we have here is twelve pathetic attempts to sound like the Beatles, supplemented by three works of genuine creativity. In terms of sound, this album lacks melody, coherence in chord progressions, and meaningful lyrics. It’s tough to make up for these huge deficiencies with innovative color, but they try. The end result is like a palette without a canvas. “Dear God”, despite all the “controversy”, is a sophomoric and self contradictory squeal about the problem of evil as evidence against the rationality of belief in God. There are much better treatments of this theme in contemporary music (John Lennon’s “God” on “Plastic Ono Band”, for argument-ending instance). I wonder if Virgin intentionally created the controversy as a marketing strategy. Now, “Mermaid Smiled” and “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” are definitely worth listening to, despite the extraordinarily weak vocals. But two tracks do not an album make. 2/5
Shame, I really wanted to like this. XTC have done some brilliant stuff; 'Love on a farmboy's wages' is still one of my very favourite songs after 30 years and I play several of their other singles regularly. This album was entirely unknown to me and I'm disappointed - I was hoping to discover some new gems. Maybe it needs more time to grow but in comparison to the obvious immediacy of their other work, it seems pretty weak. Some occasional nice stuff, but only serving to highlight how poor the rest is.
Moderately enjoyable but pretty forgettable
basically every track on this album is "X but worse" whether it's the beatles, bowie, whatever. the only really good song wasn't even on the album at first.
Honestly, they’re just kind of a mediocre Tears for Fears
No. Just no. Please please no. NEVER AGAIN
This album was awesome. It varied enough in style to keep me entertained the whole time, and had some really cool grandiose bits. Definitely will listen to this album again
5* for Dear God alone, the rest is pretty sound too.
Excellent start, just a couple of (slightly more than usual) weird tracks in the middle but still really really good.
Mermaid Smiled is so good. Dear God is so great. Every song is different and kept the whole album very enjoyable to listen to
An incredible combination of great songwriting with new wave/psychedelic sounds ingrained in the 80s. The lyrics are incredibly poignant and feel very fresh even almost 40 years later. Dear God is 80s equivalent of Pure Comedy from Father John Misty. Highlights: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 14, and 15.
So fun and so 80s; absolutely incredible instrumentally
I liked the creativity and variety
q surpresa agradável
Os tons verdes da capa desse álbum foram bem escolhidos - esse LP me dá vontade de fazer uma agradável caminhada no mato. Excelente introdução pra uma banda que eu nunca havia realmente parado pra escutar.
I think this is the fourth or even fifth listen through of this one, and suddenly I like it, I like it a lot.
Grass is my favorite.
One of my all time favorites
Delightful. Once again, I wonder why I wasn't in love with this band in college. They're great!
I remember XTC being a band, but only recall hearing Dear God. The album sounds like one that I would have acquired back in the day had I known it. Kinda quirky with and upbeat happy vibe. I like it!
Oh, this album was a breath of fresh air. I know for a fact that had I known it existed in 1986, it would have been a favorite. Why did it take this long? Interesting instrumentation, interesting lyrics, and all so enjoyable I listened to it four times today. "Umbilical" is much more fun to say when it rhymes with "cycle." Favorites are "Grass," "Ballet for a Rainy Day," "Season Cycle," "Mermaid Smiled," "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul," and "Dear God," but there's not a song I don't like. It's so much fun to get an album I've never heard before that I love so much!
What a weird, varied, and fantastic album.
Many would consider this unpopular pop but I love it the arrangements are beautifully presented and you can sense Todd Rudgrens production presence. A mix of genres like psychedelic rock and alternative pop, as well as a sound I can only describe as spacey, I love this record! My favs were Dear God and The meeting place!
I have always loved this release. XTC has always defied categorization. Each song exists as stand alone gems. Smart pop? Chamber pop? Whatever we call it works for me. Also, Todd Rundgren as producer is a good match for the guys.
New Wave megalith XTC takes a left turn after their last album, taking inspiration from late 60's psychedelic pop. This sound is a perfect fit the songwriting talents of Andy Partridge, who expertly weaves various different sounds in and out of each song. Listening to Skylarking feels like listening to something special, like what the Beach Boys' Smile was meant to be. It genuinely feels like there are no low points in this album. Excellence.
Fantastic album! The first time it was okay, but the second time I listened to it was amazing. Can’t wait for the third try. The start of the album is the best and dear god is a good finish. Love the way some of the songs flow over into eachother. Favourite songs: - Summer’s cauldron - Grass - The meeting place - Dear God Honourable mention: ballet for a rainy day + 1000 umbrellas
An awesome album and XTCs best in my book...and that's saying something. This album is legendary for the acrimony between band and producer, Todd Rundgren. Apparently Andy Partridge and Rundgren were at each other's throats throughout the sessions. I don't know what the source(s) of the conflict were, but if music this inspired is the result then it was well worth every hurt feeling and acrimonious gesture. This is the album where XTC picked up the gauntlet of best British Psychedelic Pop band since the Beatles threw it down oh so many years ago. And I feel like Rundgren plays no small part. Favourite songs; Grass, Supergirl, Ballet for a Rainy Day, the jazzy The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul, the brilliant Dear God (which was not included on the original release and frankly seems a little out of place with the albums theme) and Sacrificial Bonfires. But really pointing out individual songs defeats the point of this album as every song is a little pop gem that deserves rapt attention. No brainer 5 stars.
So I've straight up never heard of this band. Never heard of the album, never heard any of the singles. And it was terrific. It's like a Talking Heads sort of thing, with a lot of cool vocal harmonies. Like if the Beach Boys were an 80s new wave band. Anyhow, loved it.
This is the perfect blend of sweet, salty, and bitter to me. It's got tons of that anxious, foot-tapping energy, mixed with a tiny bit of that Steely Dan cynicism, but plenty of wacky fun in the production. Lots of Beach boys backing vocals, funny early Fairlight sampling, just silly songs performed seriously. Sounds like an extremely contentious recording process, from reading the Wikipedia. On that page, there's a picture of Andy Patridge self-seriously belting into a mic while reading from a comic book, and I think that pretty much sums it up for me! So wacky and fun and also serious. Gets me in all the right ways.
Lush. This is about the album I expect Brian Wilson might have made if his brilliant, 20-year-old self had lived sometime in the mid-1980s instead of the late 60s. Which is high praise. It's not without its musical associations with the mid-80s zaniness of, say, Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman, which I could take or leave generally. But this also reminds me of a British work that distinctly predates Talk Talk’s post-rock turn as far as experimentalism, multi-instrumentalism, recording/editing process, production, and genre-bending. This is art pop at its best. And I quite like it. It's so bright and warm and has layers not just in its sonics but in its lyrical content as a concept album. I liked almost every song. Though, by the time we got round to “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” and “Dying,” I was feeling tired and maybe could have skipped those two. Perhaps it could have been shorter, but it really isn’t all that long. I think it’s just a lot to take in at once, especially given there isn’t much quite like it; ie, I’m not bringing anything to the table that might help me ease into this album. It’s a completely fresh sound and I think these songs will grow on me. I’m going 5 stars. I’ve listened to a few songs off this album before, but never really sat down with it. It’s pretty incredible. And I bet it sounds great on a hi-fi speaker system.
Wow, I was worried at first, but as thw album just went on I loved it more and more, then I went back and I loved the songs I was initially questioning, and the whole album really clicked for me. It's really interesting, as I hear the 60's sound people say they here, but I also hear some music that would come from the 90's britpop era, but like, not bad? It's hard to explain, but I encourage if you think this album was close to clicking with you, listen again, it was really lovely, and I think this album is great. Can be a tad whiney at times in the vocals, but it doesn't detract past a small part of a song near the beginning.
Shout out to Charles for bringing this one over to spin. I really enjoyed this record. A lot of records take several spins before I start to “get” it but there is something about “Skylarking” that just speaks to me. Every single song was filled to the brim with stuff that made me just say “wow”. The drum programming, the guitar tone, the vocal harmonies, the HOOKS (“Ballet for a raaaainy daaaaay // Silent film of melting miracle plaaaaay”). Oh! Also! The transitions between songs are so seamless that when we were spinning the thing I didn’t even realize a new song started, just thought it was a long bridge! I loved every bit of this album. It is so fun to listen to even with darker tracks like “Dying” and “Dear God” (speaking of which, Partridge’s delivery of why he can’t believe in God in the final verse is an incredible performance). This is most definitely going to be an album I return to again and again and so, thusly, verily, it is a 5/5 from me. Favorite track: “Earn for Us” with “Dear God” as a very close runner up.
My favourite XTC album. Each track is a unique masterpiece, and I never got tired listening to them over all those years since I buyed this record.
This is another fave album of all times. I enjoyed the linked version of the album that included Dear God at the end. It's a great song but it breaks up the continuity of the album. For those not aware, it was added at the last minute and was not initially in the set roster. It's a great song, again, but does not fit the flow of the rest of the album.
Es como si hubiera viajado a una realidad paralela y estos la hubieran pegado en serio en vez de los Beatles o alguno más conocido que haga brit-pop
production/arrangements. yacht rock
Extraordinary. A concept album that sounds utterly of it's time, but also has smudges of ELO, Joe Jackson and 1960s pop in there. It all comes together brilliantly. This is squarely in pop rock territory, but occupies the more questing, ambitious end of the spectrum. Why am I not surprised that Todd Rundgren had a hand in it? Regardless, for music of this ilk, this is about as good as things get.
So, a confession. Another XTC album (The Big Express) is, for personal reasons, my most listened to album. And yet I'd never listened to their most successful album. Here I am, so thank you. So, many of us know 'Dear God' (make sure you listen to an album version that includes it), but this is just a luscious, expansive album that sounds like nothing else, yet sounds so... Swindon? I loved it, but will jump into the reviews now to find out what my non-English cousins make of it.
this was kinda cool, soft rock-ish stuff meets soft jazz kinda like mr bungle does in parts (for want of a better frame of reference). would listen again 4/5.
i like this
leuk maar beetje ouwe lullen muziek
Super good. Never really listened to them much before.
This was way ahead of its time
Groovy, pool vibes
Not bad. interesting and weird style
Summers Cauldron and Grass feel like a part 1 & 2 of the same mellow opening. The Meeting Place takes the next step in the journey. Ballet For A Rainy Day into 1000 Umbrellas is a fun counter point to the front of the album, though i like Ballet as a song better than 1000 Umbrellas. Then the album takes this really weird psychadelic space turn culminating in Another Satellite. Mermaid Smile has a great guitar intro. Cool concept album overall, one worth revisiting but first blush is a meh. Yea without Dear God as the final track, how does this album wrap itself up?
Sounded like the Beatles.
Quite pleasant. Would listen again.
really enjoyed this group all though I had never heard them before. Putting them on my play list.
Atmospheric post-pop landscapes punctuated by gorgeous storytelling.
Interesting album. At times it sounds very modern (especially the production) and at other times they invoke the Beatles or the doors. Lyrics are a bit weak at points but the majority of songs are clever and catchy. Probably a 3.5 but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt because it's different enough.
Sounds like something I get recommended by a Twitter mutual and end up liking. 'Dear God' is my favorite.
I feel a bit let down by the end of this album. It just went on a few tracks too too long. That's preventing me from giving it 5 stars. But I still loved it. 1. Crickets... Become fun 80s thumps... Becomes foot-tappin' pop! 2. Smooth transition to another pleasant ditty. Eno/Byrne vibe. Crickets out. 3. Another similar vibe---this one like a machine made of pleasant and well-fit cogs. I am loving this 4. And it keeps getting better. There's this video-game organ sound in the background which I love, but it's disguised in the mix so that the whole song just sounds goofy and fun. Oh my GOODGod that guitar solo slipped in. I'm drooling. 5. Slowing it down a minute. Makes sense, because that last song was a very tough act to follow. 6. Smooth transition to this song which is somehow miserable and goofy at once, kind of a masterpiece. I love the descending riffs and violins, which remind me of gentle giant. 7. Beach Boys?! by the way, Every once in a while this album surprises you with a disgustingly pretty jazz chord, and it's just the best. 8. Woah, straight up 80s guitar pop. Still stuff to love here, but it's comparatively a bit generic here. 9. The comparative slump did not last long. Love the opening here. This song is a whole different vibe---something a bit "Revolver". 10. Space song! 11. High energy space-pastoral 12. Weird change of pace: noir to funky jazz, partially in 7. This one felt a bit out of place. 13. Ballad... Might be about death? A weaker track 14. Funny orchestral piece 15. Starts with a child singing (meh). Kind of an atheist anthem---seems a bit preachy (lol).
Really interesting production on this album. Pushes boundaries just enough not to reach pretentiousness all while keeping a level of character and charm.
Todd Rundgren helps this album. As a thematic piece, it has a Beatles Sgt Peppers vibe that finishes weaker than it started. Dear God feels thrown in at the end - which of course it is and while it's a good song, it doesn't feel connected to the album. 3.5/5
Enjoyed this. Not heard of this band before and was pleasantly surprised.
Slow to start but all comes together nicely post 1000 umbrellas. Ballet for a Rainy Day and The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul were my highlights. Also loved the string arrangement in 1000 umbrellas. Get around that Todd Rungren production.
I actually really like the sound of this
Rating: 8/10 Best songs: That’s really super,Supergirl, Earn enough for us, Dear god
First time listener - new fan of this album. I feel like this album would have held up in any of the decades that followed its release in '86. It sounds very 80s, but - at the same time - very current. If the right bands covered these songs today, they'd be huge commercial success, IMO. Plus, the vocal remind me of Ben Folds.
What a brilliant idea. Start a record with summer cricket/bird songs. That way, every listener comes into the music with a happy feeling. And then, deliver with some good 80s pop music. I like this music a lot. I'm really pleased with the amount of British pop music on this list. Makes it worth the list's Janes Addition addiction. I have always heard about XTC but the name made me think they were goth or glam or something. Nope! They sort of sit nicely between Psychedelic Furs and the early 90s Britpop movement for me. There are so many sounds on this record that sound like they significantly influenced...wait for it...I say it all the time............Blur! Who cares? I do say it all the time. But, it's true and it feels like I found a new Blur record. "That's Really Super, Supergirl" sounds like it could be on The Great Escape. XTC is a band that will be in rotation for me. For sure.
Pop-rock suavecín. Me ha gustado.
Enjoyed this. I just want nice rhythmic jangle pop that chugs along at a good pace. I don't want my ears blown off with guitar wankery or stupid drumming. Maybe a bit pedestrian at sometimes but couldn't ask for more from a jangle pop band
Ekalla kierroksella kuulosti aika peruskamalta, mutta kun tokalla kertaa kuunteli keskittyneemmin, niin biisitkin tuntuivat paremmilta ja tuli noteerattua taustalla hiljaisempiakin instrumentteja. Loppujen lopuksi päädyin tykkäämään!
Nada a ver com que eu costumo escutar, mas gostosinho demais
The album is neurotic and baroque at the same time, like 1000 Umbrellas, and which will remain one of the milestones of pop. …Produced by Todd Rundgren.(7/10) FT: Dear God, 1000 Umbrellas
Rocked! Really enjoyed it
Perhaps the best Beatles record not made by the Beatles, this is maximalist chamber pop that veers into overindulgence now and then. Partridge sings like McCartney and writes songs like Lennon. There’s real joy and some pathos, and the quality is sustained at a high level across the record even it’s occasionally too clever by half. 4.2 for 4.
XTC is one of those bands that I enjoy when I hear them, but have never heard more than a handful of songs. So, I was glad to have the chance to listen to an entire album. I thought it was excellent. 4 stars.
A decently catchy album. Nothing groundbreaking, but enjoyable.
I had no idea what to expect from this album but it was pretty good. I really liked 1000 umbrellas and the rest of the songs were enjoyable too
Solid and enjoyable album with some Britpop and 60s pop elements. I can't tell you why I like it specifically but I can tell you that I do!
Really intriguing album!
This album is lush and complex. It foreshadows quirky, witty and nuanced indie groups like Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, The Antlers etc. XTC was definitely ahead of their time.
Probably my favorite XTC album. Never realized Todd Rundgren produced it, but it makes sense that he'd be the perfect fit for their unique arrangements and structures. Too bad he and Andy Partridge didn't get along, but they ended up making great work together.
I know a good amount of XTC but the only track I knew from this one is Dear God, which I've never been a fan of. Happily the rest of the album was much better to my ears, it's all quite smooth and poppy compared to their earlier post punk work but the tunes are great.
Actually really enjoyed this one
May downgrade later but really enjoyed this yesterday
I liked this one! Reminded me a bit of the Flaming Lips.
I quite enjoyed this. The vocals weren’t amazing, but the instrumentation was cool.
Probably my favorite XTC album
This is the real indie, very weird and relatively unsuccessful in its time. I liked it, it seemed like a genuine product of unique individuals.
I like this a lot. Very eclectic with interesting arrangements and great melodies.