interview: Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark
Tune into WMSE as Tom catches up with OMD on Radio Drill Time in advance of their Milwaukee show on March 17th at the Northern Lights Theater.
The Punishment of Luxury is the new album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), the pioneering synth-pop group—founded almost 40 years ago by two teenage Kraftwerk fans from the Wirral—whose early albums Architecture and Morality (1981) and Dazzle Ships (1983) would shape the dominant sound of that decade. Alongside the Human League and Gary Numan, OMD mapped out the musical landscape of the time and helped to mint this new genre with hits such as “Enola Gay,” “Electricity” and “Souvenir.”
Described by The Quietus as “not just one of the best synth bands ever—they are one of the best bands ever,” OMD’s influence has become ubiquitous. The xx, the Killers and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy have cited OMD as an inspiration, and the likes of Future Islands and Chvrches show traces of OMD’s DNA.
Their thirteenth album, The Punishment of Luxury, is a daring collection of stylish synth-pop and masterful song craft that sees OMD edge out of their comfort zone without compromising their integrity. “It’s almost like we’ve gone back to being teenagers after all these years,” says Andy. “We just do whatever we want and there’s no record company to tell us what we can or can’t do.” In the past their songs were fuelled by naïvety and excitement, this time the mood is reflective and sanguine, yet the youthful energy that courses through OMD remains the same. “On this album we have managed to make beautiful things out of noises and repetitive patterns,” explains Andy. “The trouble is, we just can’t help but write a catchy melody!”
OMD have always been techno-futurists but rarely have they sounded so brutally electronic as they do on Punishment…, as they pair gnarly electro rhythms with characteristically serene melodies, and slide Andy’s blue-eyed soul ballads into sleek new digital frames.
“We did feel like we were doing something that was changing the world,” says Andy of those early days when OMD would shock TV audiences with their weird new-wave on Top of the Pops. Their vision of utopia never quite materialized, of course, but with The Punishment of Luxury, OMD continue to enrich our lives.