[splendid reviews]
 C O V E R R E V I E W
apple venus vol. 1
When a band returns from a lengthy hiatus with an abbreviated lineup and the remaining members loaded down with a few years' worth of emotional baggage, you can almost see the warning sign flashing: Caution: Cynical, Half-Hearted Cash-In Effort Ahead. There are undoubtedly those who expect such lows from Apple Venus, Volume I, but that's not what you'll find there. From the first minutes of "River of Orchids", brimming with horns and plucked strings, you realize this is an album that moves at its own pace, exploring its textured, orchestral sounds in a leisurely, intimate fashion. Andy Partridge mines his life (specifically his relatively recent divorce) for material, finding a measure of catharsis in the subtly caustic "Your Dictionary", and ruminating on the intangibility of love, both blossoming and waning, in "I Can't Own Her". Apple Venus is far from depressing, though -- the sumptuous strings of "Easter Theatre" and the quintessential pop of "Frivolous Tonight" should keep listeners' spirits high. On the whole, this is a relatively contemplative disc; it will be best received by those XTC fans who've aged with the band, and upon whose lives the last seven years have wrought their own set of changes. Just as album-closer "The Last Balloon" views the promises and pitfalls of childhood from an adult perpsective, Apple Venus Volume 1 looks forward while also looking back.
 I N F O
Apple Venus Volume I
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order from music blvd Review by George Zahora

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