Here they are again. Visually mismatched oddball synth duo who after 30 odd years of creating weird sounds and adding catchy melodies are still at it. The Punishment of Luxury is described as a daring and dazzling synth pop opus and from the sounds of it OMD are being weird. I like it when they are weird.
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I'm back to my childhood. Chuckie Egg on the computer and an OMD tape on the stereo. Yup I'm reviewing this on tape for that real life '80s feel but just like the internet version of Chuckie Egg is just a facsimile then OMD are something of a photostat of their original selves. Like many reformed bands what they do now isn't utterly abysmal but generally acts as a fans-only reproduction of the music they used to make.
The opening title track has a immedi-catchy 'Souvenir' like synth line topped off with Andy McCluskey talking about cheques and such outdated ephemera. It's not bad. Neither is 'Isotype' which begins with some well 'Dazzleships' voices before some pounding techno-ish synths and typical McCluskey nursery rhyme vocal line and that 70's ad-friendly synth line. All the ingredients are there but they spend so long faffing with breakdown that you get bored of waiting for the hooks to hit. We either had more patience in the 80s or OMD had better editing skills as this goes on for fucking ever.
'Robot Man' is more like the material McCluskey came up with for 'Atomic Kitten' - its ridiculously catchy but also kitchy and sounds a little bit modern for these self confessed retro synth enthusiasts. Larry Grayson resembling second in command Paul Humphreys is allowed his usual song on the repetitive 'What Have We Done' which just seems to repeat the title ad nauseum and does little else. McCluskey gets his lesser spotted bass out on 'Precision & Decay' which finally, finally sounds something like the early OMD I remember even if the voice samples have a whiff of Public Service Broadcasting about them. Also it's ridiculously short - annoying when 'Isotype' took up most of the first side of the tape.
What the album does is spread the risk pretty accurately. It has something for fans of every era of OMD but does none of them as well as they did in the first place. Certainly no disaster but go listen 'Romance of the Telescope' off 'Dazzle Ships' as a compare and contrast. Yup, I know.
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- The Punishment of Luxury by OMD
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