Song: Complicated Game
Complicated Game is just one of several gems on XTC’s brilliant Drums and Wires,their landmark third album from 1979. Beyond the hit Making Plans for Nigel, there was Reel By Reel, Roads Girdle The Globe - and several internationally-released versions of the album bundled in the wonderfully frenetic number, Life Begins at The Hop. Bristling with crisp energy, the album showcases the UK band’s growing expertise at fashioning melodic power-pop with intelligent and witty lyrics. Yet Complicated Game, which closes out the second side of the original vinyl release, is a darker matter altogether, a grim and angry meditation on random chance and the cruelties of a fickle, indifferent world. It begins as quiet as a church mouse but in its slow stealth it takes on a grave, merciless momentum - punctuated by a divinely snarly and economical guitar solo that winds in and out of atonality with demented purpose. The song ends in a raucous welter of echoing shouts and imprecations amidst a swirling cacophony which swallows up the tattered remains of the song and then fades into the awaiting void. A typical early XTC pop song it ain’t - but it is bloody brilliant.
Posted by Max MacDonald