40. XTC, Oranges and Lemons (Geffen, 1989)

XTC flirted most closely with fame on this kaleidoscopic slice of post-Beatles psych-pop, which contained their lone US chart hit, "The Mayor of Simpleton". Like the rest of this record, it's a big, bold sun-kissed production with chiming guitars over an unfathomably complex, melodic bass line. It's hard to say why it outshines hundreds of other pop songs with lots of chiming guitars and great bass lines, because Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding make it all sound effortless. While this overlong set lacks the cohesiveness of Skylarking, it gets the nod over Drums and Wires (1979) and English Settlement (1982)--if only for the purely sentimental reason that it was the album that introduced me to what, for a few years, was my favorite band. Laugh with (or at) the double meaning of "Pink Thing" all you want, but "Chalkhills and Children" and "Across This Antheap" redeem the cleverest of souls with their audacity and sheer, unadorned beauty.