A dreamlike 21st century take on ’80s synthpop
This month, British synthpop group Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark released their 13th studio album The Punishment of Luxury. Having been formed in the late ’70s in Wirral, Merseyside in the UK, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark has been credited with having influence on many current electronic groups such as MGMT and LCD Soundsystem. The Punishment of Luxury sticks to the group’s synthpop roots and is a dreamy 21st century spin on ’80s synthpop.
The Punishment of Luxury is light-hearted and upbeat as well as dreamy and this can be heard from the very beginning of the album on the title track “The Punishment of Luxury.” The song is high-energy, danceable, and the vocals have a summertime fun feel to them. It really sets the tone nicely for the rest of the album.
On the next track, “Isotype,” the tempo is slowed slightly and features more of the dreamy feel that is present on the album. The song features airy synths behind electronic melodies that give the song its dreamlike feel. The vocals too add to the airy feel of the song that seem to float along with the music.
The album takes an edgier feel on the next track, “Robot Man” however it does not feel out of place on the album, but rather blends in nicely creating a nice change of pace. It still maintains the ’80s synthpop feel but the vocals are a little thicker as well as the electronic instrumentation.
The album once again returns to an ethereal essence on the next track “What We Have Done” featuring a much more slowed tempo and a more light-hearted vibe. The vocals on the track also have a lighter more atmospheric feel to them which add to the spacey feel. This pacing is maintained through to the next track “Precision and Decay” which is a fairly short interlude.
“As We Open, So We Close” continues the dreamy ethereal feel and has a much slower tempo than any of the other songs on the album. The song does make use of thick static-y synths, yet they are used sporadically throughout the song and do not interfere with the highly atmospheric sound.
The pacing is returned once again to the high-energy synthpop tempo heard at the beginning of the album on the track “Art Eats Art.” The song features a much more danceable pacing than some of the other tracks and a lot of fun to listen to.
Another key highlight from the album comes on the track entitled “One More Time” which nicely blends the dreamy elements and the more upbeat portions of the album. It also really exemplifies the ’80s synthpop feel on the album and is all around a really fun synthpop love ballad.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s The Punishment of Luxury is a solid album and a lot of fun to listen to. It is a great take on ’80s synthpop in 2017 and the dreamy essence that is present on the album makes is a truly awesome listening experience.