Album 13 from OMD sees the electronic band reflect on a modern technological society.White Noise, 2017
6.6 / 10
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) have been around since the late ’70s. Many artists cite their brand of electronic music as an influence, including LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, who also has a new album out today. With their 13th studio album, The Punishment of Luxury, the core duo of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys look at our modern world. Here, they examine how technology and marketing shape our everyday lives. We’re now dependent on cell phones and completely vulnerable should they ever stop working. The album’s theme makes sense considering how long OMD have been making music. But their music still maintains a youthful exuberance that many of their modern peers can’t keep up with. There were times while listening to this album where I was wondering why do we even need Cut Copy. Sorry, Cut Copy.
But kudos to OMD for making me think such an idea! Punishment of Luxury‘s songs flourish with bright, neon synthesizers, but OMD are smart in that they add some teeth to their arrangements as well. These songs often gnaw rather than just dazzle the ear with cushy beats. McCluskey and Humphreys don’t let listeners get too comfortable. The aggressive tone implies a grumpiness that comes with age. However, it gives the songs a touch of darkness and keeps the songs from sounding a bit too upbeat. Take the melancholy “Ghost Star” for instance where the synths almost betray its somber, reflective tone. With “punishment” in the album’s title, there better be some punishing textures. But thankfully, OMD’s latest is never a punishment to listen to.