My Top 1000 Songs #278: Senses Working Overtime

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

If "Generals & Majors" was the song that first clued me in to XTC back in high school, "Senses Working Overtime," from the 1980 follow-up LP English Settlement, was the cherry on the sundae. It's in some ways the definitive example of the XTC blueprint: skewed pop that avoids the simple ease of power pop, with some jagged complexity ultimately giving way to irrepressible hooks.

"Senses" is particularly deceptive, a slow, almost draggy intro, with some plucked guitar strings and Andy Partridge's plaintive intonations, soon joined by a tribal, slinky rhythm section; but then the brightness kicks in and the band tosses you into a joyous sing-along chorus. It's all tension and release, patience well-rewarded.

Miming along on Top of the Pops:
Live in 1982: