Album Review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment Of Luxury
The current line up of Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark (OMD); Andy McCluskey (vocals, keys and bass), Paul Humphreys (keys and vocals), Martin Cooper (Keys) and Stuart Kershaw (drums) release their thirteenth studio album since their formation back in 1978. The Punishment Of Luxury takes its name from a late 19th century painting by Giovanni Segantini called The Punishment Of Lust, later renamed The Punishment Of Luxury because Victorian crowds found the word ‘lust’ too scandalous. Writing for the album started in early 2015. Staying close to their roots of 80’s art synth pop, OMD blend the eclectic electric sound palette with the warm tones of their human voices.
OMD’s binary based sound makes me think, “if androids dream of electric sheep, then The Punishment Of Luxury is the soundtrack to their life”. A strong theme throughout the album is man and machine, namely our dependence on robots and the consequences of this. Precision & Decay begins with a mechanical newsreader’s matter of fact tone stating, “From luxury to landfill, and precision and decay, the highway of prosperity to collapse and dismay”. La Mitraileuse, which like the album, took its name from a painting, this time a WWI era painting by Christopher Nevinson (I guess Art Eats Art, indeed). This track actually uses gun shot sounds to create musical sensibilities over which the line “bend your body to the will of the machine” is repeated. The songs are a commentary of how humanity’s complacency in the development of technology to satisfy our sloth-like desires will lead to an android uprising punishing humanity for our collective lust for luxury, but I’m probably reading way too much into an art pop album. It’s not all doom and gloom, tracks like The View From Up Here give a sense of hope and triumph singing, “climb the mountain of your fear”.