Rolling Stone (6/8/00, p.126) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Returns to basic rhythm-guitar rock...following the contours of their melodies, resisting the impulse to endlessly embellish - the songs are streamlined, uncluttered miniatures..."
Q (6/00, p.117) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Wistful, often wry, but always intelligent pop. Always have done, always will do..."
Alternative Press (7/00, p.114) - 3 out of 5 - "...The bulk of WASP STAR could get [XTC] card-carrying memberships in the Traveling Wilburys alongside Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne..."
Magnet (8-9/00, p.95) - "...Makes like a British Steely Dan, surrounding themselves with slick session hands who fuss over the recipes for warmed-over rock'n'roll casserole..."
CMJ (6/00, p.76) - "...Harks back to old-school XTC....driven by hooks and harmonies...and [all the tracks] have that warm, rustic sensibility..."
Mojo (Publisher) (6/00, p.95) - "...A collection of guitary pop songs which may well be the band's most straightforward set ever....few people make records like this any more; big-hearted, brainy, funny and poignant..."
NME (Magazine) (6/3/00, p.40) - 7 out of 10 - "...An album of well-constructed guitar songs....a surprisingly decent album, as good as anything they've ever made..."
XTC: Andy Partridge (vocals, guitar); Colin Moulding (vocals, bass).
Additional personnel: Gavin Wright, Patrick Kiernan (violin); Peter Lale (viola); Caroline Dale (cello); Kate St. John (oboe); Simon Gardner (flugelhorn); Nick Davis (keyboards); Chuck Sabo, Prairie Prince (drums); Matt Vaughn (programming); Holly Partridge (background vocals).
Engineers include: Alan Douglas, Barry Hammond, Haydn Bendall.
Recorded at Idea Studios, Wiltshire, England and Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire, England.
WASP STAR is a muscular and confident album, full of excellent XTC songs. There's the rolling, glorious "Stupidly Happy," with the cool '80s megaphone vocals throwback, and Colin Moulding's splendid "In Another Life," one of his patented slice-of-life stories featuring kettle drums and spikey acoustic guitars.
Also of note is "I'm the Man Who Murdered Love," an obvious choice for a single, with a sing-along chorus, an Arabic-flavored guitar solo, and hypnotically paced percussion. The story/song "Standing In for Joe," which sounds like an English music hall tune played by Roxy Music, tells the first-person tale of a man asked to look after his best friend's wife and who, naturally, falls hard for her. Arguably the best XTC album since SKYLARKING (and certainly their best since ORANGES & LEMONS), WASP STAR is an essential purchase for fans and the merely curious.