After a delay in 2006, New Romantics old and, well...new can enjoy the highly anticipated release of OMD's Architecture and Morality, remastered and enhanced with DVD footage.
This third album from the bruised nucleus of bassist/singer Andy McCluskey and keyboardist/electronics enthusiast Paul Humphreys is often regarded as their seminal work, not least because it achieved critical and commercial success (over three million sales and several top ten hits) unlike its predecessor Organisation (for all its sonic ambition, overly challenging) and its follow up Dazzle Ships (which lacked memorable songs).
As the newly reformed group prepares to tour the UK in May, there is no better time to reconsider their contemplative, surreal and at times rather austere soundscapes, reminiscent of early 80's contemporaries including Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Human League and The Cure. Crucially, despite similar penchants for stark portentous drum pads, sparse chiming keys and historical references in their lovelorn lyrics, OMD never achieved the same level of recognition, either here or aboard. Similarly their lineage to Bloc Party and the like goes unnoticed. Considering that OMD had been long-time collaborators in the late 70s working as VCL XI on 'digital echoes' of Kraftwerk and Eno (employing tape collages, home-made kit-built synthesisers, and circuit-bent radios) they certainly possessed the requisite vision and creative compulsion. So a second coming of the album is important.
Highlights include the winsome songwriting of ''Souvenir'' and ''She's Leaving'' plus the meditative instrumentals ''Architecture & Morality'' and ''Sealand''. The bonus tracks are by no means fillers either, as ''Sacred Heart'' illustrates.
For a band whose music is best enjoyed, as their name suggests, in the invisible shadows, an accompanying DVD is something of a liability. Indeed, upon cursory viewing it serves little purpose except to exhibit dodgy clothing, even dodgier dancing (witness McCluskey during their 1982 Drury Lane performance of ''Julia's Song'') and cringe-worthy miming/posturing in the music videos. Still, all the hits are impeccably performed live and 80s nostalgia junkies will be satisfied. On the whole, OMD deserve respect and adoration for their contribution to British pop music. --Amar Patel
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CD ...Morality -Remastered-