(One thing I've realized about the playing on their first four albums is that it's the type of interplay I've always wanted to hear from the Talking Heads or Police, and occasionally do, but XTC just do it better. The groove on Meccanik Dancing is a favorite at the moment.)
I would agree with Nolol that Black Sea and English Settlement are the top two, granting the edge to Black Sea, as I feel it's where they struck the perfect balance between post-punk instrumental attack and pop melody; I can say without hyperbole that the songwriting is McCartney-quality throughout.
I am a fan of Drums and Wires however, only not granting it top tier honors (as most XTC fans would) for the old-fashioned reason that I don't care for a few of the songs.
Skylarking is...not an album I've ever been able to get into the way I'd like. I'm tempted to leave it at that, but the truth is I don't think the individual hooks are at all comparable to the quality of something like Black Sea. "Earn Enough for Us", "Sacrificial Bonfire" and the immortal "Grass" stand as highlights in my probably unreliable memory, but I've never cared for "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul" (halfhearted genre experiment) or "Dear God" (a song I find exploitative and wrongheaded even as an atheist, not to mention melodically uninteresting) to name two.
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