Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Album review: The Punishment of Luxury by OMD 

The Eighties duo return with their 13th album release, an intriguing electronic journey of decay and decline through synths and pop style

OMD: The Punishment of Luxury
OMD: The Punishment of Luxury

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s intriguing new album presents a familiar palette to long-term fans, its electronic licks and linguistic kicks firmly referencing the sound and the aesthetic that once made OMD enormously successful, while at the same time substantially updating their synth-pop sound. The Punishment of Luxury is the band’s third release since founder members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys began working together again in 2006.

The title track, named after a 19th-century painting by Giovanni Segantini, finds OMD in their electronic sweet spot, with obvious points of reference to ‘80s contemporaries such as New Order, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and even Jean-Michel Jarre. Precision & Decay, one of the album’s stand-out moments, is a gorgeous synthetic ode to the industrial decline experienced by cities all over the world: “From luxury to landfill and precision to decay, the highway of prosperity to collapse and decay”, an electronically sculpted voice wistfully opines.

Decay and decline are themes that are evident throughout. Indeed, McCluskey has always been able to weave a very good line in loss: One More Time, a typically well-constructed three-minute pop song, and Ghost Star, are both superb examples of this craft.

Elsewhere, there are sonic experiments that work, notably La Mitrailleuse, which pays homage to a 1915 artwork by Christopher Nevinson by constructing a sound made almost entirely from rapid gunfire, and those that don’t. Art Eats Art is an uncomfortable Hi-NRG stomp through a list of prominent artists and influences. That said, the album is an enjoyable and adventurous mix of synths and substance.


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