XTC's fourth album showed the full flower of their two-guitar lineup, begun on the previous DRUMS AND WIRES. Perhaps their most powerfully rocking work, the songs were no less compelling live. Unfortunately, as touring began in support of the release, leader Andy Partridge's long-standing stage fright blossomed into immobilizing panic, forcing the band to permanently retire from the stage. Their palette was continuing to expand sonically and Steve Lillywhite's production made the most of every towering beat and rhythmic nuance. Several singles were drawn from the record and charted in Britain, most notably the dazzling "Respectable Street" and "Towers Of London." BLACK SEA marked the close of the band's first era and stands as one of their peak works, filled as it with the stunning and unmistakable flavors that are the band's character.
Q (7/01, p.139) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Love, insecurity and the evils of the city began to creep into a monolithic pop-sound.... XTC were a motherlode of rampant imagination..."