wed 17/07/2024

Album: OMD - Bauhaus Staircase | reviews, news & interviews

Album: OMD - Bauhaus Staircase

Album: OMD - Bauhaus Staircase

Eighties electro-pop duo sound like they're enjoying themselves

With a flavour of Walter Gropius

The three previous albums that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have released since reforming in 2010 have all, to varying degrees, adhered to their early sound. The band were part of the post-punk, post-Kraftwerk, 1979-82 synth-pop boom, alongside the likes of The Human League, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan.

Those three albums, History of Modern, English Electric and The Punishment of Luxury, were all deep dipped in the sonics of that era. This time round, though, OMD’s sound often moves towards their mid-Eighties output; a less universally loved era.

They sound also like they’re having fun. There’s a looseness and eclecticism, a willingness to wander off the WE-HEART-KRAFTWERK path, perhaps encouraged and assisted by co-producer David Watts (the man who helmed Rotherham indie band The Reytons’ recent chart-topping album). It doesn’t always work – the stomping almost-glam of “Slow Train”, with its campy “oh-yeah-yeah”s, is not for me – and, even when it does, occasional elements pastiche peer bands, as on the luscious but very Pet Shop Boys slowie “Veruschka”.

The press release terms Bauhaus Staircase “the band’s most explicitly political record” but, in fact, this means there’s a clunkily worded, slightly cheesy, but twinklingly catchy number called “Kleptocracy” and a couple of engagingly sci-fi, environmentally-themed instrumentals with voiceovers, “Evolution of Species” and “Anthropocene”. The rest of the album contains the romantic melodic sweetness of “Look at You Now”, “Don’t Go” and “Where We Started” (all of which wouldn’t be out of place 1984’s Junk Culture) alongside occasional crunchier pulsers such “G.E.M” and the title track.

As the Eighties went on, OMD’s sound went off the rails. When that occurred is a matter of personal taste, but eventually most would agree things went musically wrong. Bauhaus Staircase sounds like Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphries moving on from what they’ve been doing since they returned, but also aware, from bitter experience, that they don’t want to veer too far.

Below: watch the video for "Veruschka" by Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark

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