If you don’t know XTC from NOFX or INXS, this is the wrong book for you. But anyone who has heard the sweet thinking man’s pop music created by Andy Partridge and the boys, knows that there are few contemporaries who were able to turn a phrase as deftly as XTC.
In this comprehensive book, longtime fan and eventual friend of the band Todd Bernhardt, a fellow musician and freelance writer has taken the time to dissect, alongside the lyricist and songwriter, many of the bands well-known hits and many more less known, but equally impressive deep cuts. Written chronologically, starting with 1978’s “This is Pop,” off of “White Music,” Bernhardt and Partridge have long, in depth conversations about how the songs were written, the meanings behind them, the musical structure and more. The thoroughness of the conversations here is nirvana from anyone who’s ever spent time with the liner notes of an XTC record.
Of the band’s most well-known song, “Dear God,” Partridge admits he thought he initial failed to accomplish simply because the subject – man’s belief in God – was too big to tackle. “So I thought I’d failed to address this massive subject for all mankind – and also a big subject for me, because I think it’s been bugging me for many years.”
Bernhardt manages to pull off Complicated Game, in large part, thanks to the ease with which he and Partridge spoke, over several months. The casual, honest candor sounds like eavesdropping at times. The result is an impressive study in modern pop brilliance.