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Album Review: OMD – The Punishment of Luxury

By on Wednesday, 30th August 2017 at 12:00 pm

OMD The Punishment of Luxury album coverThe 1980 incarnation of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark would never have imagined the awesome number of electronic acts actively working and putting out music in 2017. Going on from that thought, it isn’t surprising that OMD found themselves returning to their roots for inspiration for 2013’s ‘English Electric’. Everything comes around full circle, as the saying goes.

The title ‘The Punishment of Luxury’ comes from an 1891 painting by Italian artist Giovanni Segantini, incidentally now owned by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Bassist and most frequent frontman Andy McCluskey has explained, “Most people in the western world are materially better off than their predecessors ever were, and yet we are unhappier. Now we have many possessions that we don’t need because we’ve been persuaded to buy. This is the punishment of luxury.” Seems apt that they’ve undertaken an even further stripping down to their electronic basics for this newest record, eh?

And OMD have taken to this challenge like a duck to water. The LP manages to sound fresh and wonderfully experimental at the same time, which is no mean feat. Inventive single ‘Isotype’, unveiled in May, has a relentlessly catchy rhythm while McCluskey questions society’s overreliance on technology and how it’s affecting how we communicate. Recall that this is a band not shy to get philosophical. On ‘Robot Man’, it’s hard to tell whose side he’s on, as he’s joined by mechanical beats, buzzes and flourishes: “in the head, you’re the perfect machine / there’s a hole where your heart should have been”. Speaking of robots, OMD sound like they’re accompanied by their metal buddies on ‘As We Open, So We Close’. Repetitive clicks and swishes hit you in the face while a nursery rhyme-like melody plays on.

They dump conventional vocals entirely by feeding the words of ‘Art Eats Art’ through a synth. The result is a memorably frenetic tune. Who needs flying cars when we’ve got a new OMD record? Keyboardist Paul Humphreys takes on vocal duties on the ballad-leaning ‘What Have We Done’. An admirable computerized symphonic sound envelops the track, with synths replacing what might have been strings with any other band. Don’t forget these are the guys who pioneered New Wave synthpop straight out of the gate with their debut single. They’re not afraid to do something different.

On the more conventional side of things, ‘One More Time’ is as mainstream as this LP gets. As deathly precise synth beats bounce, McCluskey wistfully recalls, “I’ve never heard a woman call out my name / with the love and the power and passion that you gave / hold me in your arms and say you’re mine / you can break my heart one more time”. It’s like a nice continuation of ‘If You Leave’ some 30 years later. An even more compelling story is told through ‘Ghost Star’, an over 6-minute opus that begins with arresting organ chords and bird calls. McCluskey’s softly sung words like “the broken boy is healed again / I fall into you wholly” fall away softly and before a meticulously exquisite electronic melody and beat sequence follows. The lyrics alone could stand as a beautiful poem, but spun with OMD’s instrumentation, the overall effect is spellbinding.

It bears repeating that good stuff always remains good stuff. In an age where OMD are surrounded by youngsters clutching synths, inspired by their ‘80s output, they could have simply rested on their laurels and repeated the same old schtick. Instead, they’ve come out 4 decades from their start with an interesting set of songs, running the gamut from high-tech experimental to poppy torch song, and sure to inspire a new generation.


OMD’s ‘The Punishment of Luxury’, their thirteenth album, will be out this Friday, the 1st of September, on White Noise and 100% Records. To catch up on our coverage here on TGTF, which includes live reviews of them stateside and in England, go here.


Video of the Moment #2405: OMD

By on Thursday, 20th July 2017 at 6:00 pm

Less than a month and a half to go until the new OMD record hits the high street and all good online retailers. Synthpop legends Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, the Wirral boys who done good, will be releasing ‘The Punishment of Luxury’, 4 years on from their last one, 2013’s ‘English Electric’. (You can read my review of the long player back through here.) This week, they’ve decided to release another preview of the album, following on from the exemplary ‘Isotype’ and ‘La Mitrailleuse’. This time, it’s the title track, accompanied with a sprightly, upbeat tempo and an equally sprightly animated video The Punishment of Luxury’, OMD’s 13th album, will drop on the 1st of September on 100% Records / White Noise. To have a read through the rest of our coverage here on TGTF on OMD, come through.


Video(s) of the Moment #2371: OMD

By on Thursday, 1st June 2017 at 6:00 pm

Legendary synthpop pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, also known by their leaner, meaner acronym OMD, have announced they’ll be releasing a new studio album this autumn. ‘The Punishment of Luxury’, their lucky thirteenth, will drop on the 1st of September on White Noise Records. This time around, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys appear to be taking cues from fellow vanguards of history Kraftwerk on ‘Isotype’, their newest taster from the upcoming LP. Its accompanying promo video is an animated tour de force, beautiful and hypnotic at the same time.

And tonight, I’m not giving you one, but two videos from the new record. The sound of ‘La Mitrailleuse’, a short tune which was unveiled a few weeks back, has an overt political bent, with gunshots ringing out through the song and cannons firing in its animated promo. That said, the video ends with what looks like something far brighter than war. Could it be a new day in its Technicolor brilliance? Catch up on both videos below. A massive UK tour in November and December will take place just before a string of Continental dates. All their announced shows and summer festival appearances for 2017 are listed here.To read more of our coverage here on TGTF on OMD, including my review of their last album ‘English Electric’, follow this link.


Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks

By on Tuesday, 17th December 2013 at 11:00 am

2013 did not disappoint to deliver another year of brilliant live performances for me here in America and in Britain. Which shows will I remember the most from 20-13? (I wrote it out that way, because I was told this last time in England that me pronouncing it that way makes it obvious I am an American. Do you reckon that’s true? I’m trying, folks, I’m trying, but as the majority of you know, I am American, born and bred!) Read on about the most exciting shows I’ve been to this year…

5. the 1975 at U Street Music Hall (20th June 2013) – I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the 1975 5 times this year, with 3 of those times in DC, and unusually, the one show that sticks out in my mind among all others is not their largest show in DC, nor their smallest, but the one in between.

The energy at U Street Music Hall, coupled with the screaming fans down the front, made it clear I was witnessing history. So what if “she’s got a boyfriend anyway”? We’ll be singing and bopping to the music like we don’t care, that’s what.

The 1975 Washington June 2013 1

4. Savoir Adore at DC9 (25th September 2013) – DC9 doesn’t have a great reputation for sound quality, but on this Wednesday night, all the stars aligned for a near perfect sounding show, highlighting the shiny, glittery ambiance that Savoir Adore brings to their shows.

Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer now have an impressive back catalogue to draw from, and this was just a wonderful gig to showcase their music, with punters having such a good time dancing to their tunes.

Savoir Adore Washington 2013 live 2

3. the Crookes at Sheffield Shakespeare (19th May 2013) – as the American editor of a UK-centric music site, all too often I’m left banging my head against a table or a wall when I come to the disappointing conclusion that I can’t attend a show I really want to be at. (Maybe one day when I have my own private plane…)

While the travel to Sheff was a pain in the arse – I must have taken the slowest Sunday train known to man from St. Pancras to the North East – and I’d not slept the night before, as John and I had been in Brighton all weekend to cover the Great Escape, it was all worth it for this chance to see one of my favourite bands in a teeny tiny gig in their hometown. As soon as I’d arrived at the place, I knew I’d made the right decision, having been greeted with the singing talents of a good friend wafting ‘Dance in Colour’ out of the top windows of the pub. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Read my review for further musings.

2. OMD at Gateshead Sage (13th May 2013) – where do you go to see a favourite Northern band when possible? The North, of course. Martin had alerted me ahead of time that the Sage was quite a posh place and to expect people to be dressed fancier than I was used to seeing in clubs.

Hate people talking on their phones at gigs? The Sage has high-tech mobile phone blocking technology. The beautifully lit, swiveling panels suspended in the air above us and the band were awe-inspiring, as were Andy McCluskey’s seemingly inexhaustible singing and dad-dancing talents. ‘Electricity’? Why, yes.

OMD Gateshead live 1

1. Little Comets at the Hamilton (13th August 2013) – for the longest time, it seemed all my music friends had seen this Geordie band live and I hadn’t; further, so many of the bands I was personally friends with either had toured with them or had become friends with them after being impressed by their live show at a festival.

Well, it took 4 long years but I finally got to see Little Comets live, and I’m pleased to report they were well worth the wait. The dinner theatre-style setup of the Hamilton means at most shows, punters will remain sat at their tables, chewing on their tapas. Not this night: with fans shrieking and letting out catcalls of delight, stomping to their favourite songs and singing along word for word to tracks like ‘Isles’, it was definitely a moment in time I will never forget. More of this, please!

Little Comets Washington 2

Honourable mentions:

Franz Ferdinand at Strathmore Hall (17th October 2013) – I was under the distinct impression I would never see Franz Ferdinand live, unless maybe I was lucky enough to catch them at a festival. It had been 7 years since they’d played in DC. Great show punctuated with Alex Kapranos’ Olympic-effort leaps and bounds, and I have to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve been sat next to Nick McCarthy’s extended family at a show. Just saying.

Kodaline at Jammin’ Java (13th October 2013) – it must be nice to be on your first headline tour of North America and arrive in a city to find out you’ve sold out your gig there. I’ve seen quite a few post-gig fan queues in my day, but this one for Kodaline stretched to about forever. We hung around for over an hour and a half, watching the band say hello, sign autographs and take photos with each and every fan that wanted to meet them. If only all bands were as considerate.

the Static Jacks at DC9 (2nd October 2013) – this guys just get better and better every time I see them. They managed to turn a humdrum Wednesday night in Washington into a disco, with appreciative fans cutting a rug to their music. Doesn’t really get any better than that.

Villagers at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (13th June 2013) – this was the first time I’d see the Villagers full band setup, having only seen Conor J. O’Brien solo in 2010. If you had reservations that ‘Becoming a Jackal’ was a whimper-y kind of record and you weren’t sold on their new direction in ‘{Awayland}’, go see them live now and watch them rock out.

the Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club (21st April 2013) – I prefer to see this Welsh band in smaller, dingier confines because I think their music suits that kind of environment better, but still, this was an amazing show. Hard to believe the first time I saw them was in November 2010, barely filling half of Black Cat Backstage’s capacity of 200.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2013. The runner-up gigs are also marked.

Continue reading Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks


MP3 of the Day #782: OMD

By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 10:00 am

OMD‘s current single ‘Night Cafe’ has been remixed by the entirely appropriately named Metroland. Listen to and grab it for your very own from the Soundcloud widget below.


Video of the Moment #1305: OMD

By on Thursday, 29th August 2013 at 6:00 pm

The animated video for OMD‘s ‘Night Cafe’ – to be released on the 16th of September on 100% Records as the third single from current album ‘English Electric’ – has loads of little details about the madness of watching life in the big city from a cafe window. It’s even got whiffs of ’80s computer game Leisure Suit Larry. Watch it below.

‘Night Cafe’ will be released as part of a limited edition CD digipack featuring an exclusive B-side, ‘Kill Me’, the complete set of b-sides from the ‘English Electric’ era and four remixes of ‘Night Cafe’. My review of ‘English Electric’ from the spring is here.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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