XTC‘s uncommonly original style can be at the same time an asset and a liability. While it makes the band’s work immediately recognizable, it may make it difficult to identify original elements in an album such as English Settlement. This is not to say that it’s too uniform; influences range from reggae to a probably unintentional reminiscence of Adam & the Ants in a song or two.
However just about every one of the album’s songs carries some of the XTC hallmarks, be it in a melodic passage or in some arrangement detail, and English Settlement will immediately sound familiar to anybody who is acquainted with other XTC records.
I find it hard to identify any of English Settlement‘s songs as my favourite; in my opinion they are not as distinct and powerful as, for instance, those from Black Sea. On the other hand I have to admit that “Senses Working Overtime“, the album’s most successful single, stuck to my mind and I keep finding myself humming it.
XTC is definitely a band worth exploring, but this is not the album I would start with, better alternatives being Black Sea and Skylarking. Still, if you already know and like XTC, you won’t be disappointed by this album.