Sugar Tax – Released 7th May 1991
1. Sailing On the Seven Seas
2. Pandora's Box
3. Then You Turn Away
4. Speed of Light
5. Was It Something I Said
6. Big Town
7. Call My Name
8. Apollo XI
9. Walking On Air
10. Walk Tall
11. Neon Lights
12. All That Glitters
After a four year absence, 'Sugar Tax' saw Andy McCluskey (who was, at this point, the sole original member of the group after band mates Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes had left to form 'The Listening Pool') bring OMD back to the charts with a 'bang'. Full to bursting with memorable and quirky rhythms ('Sailing On the Seven Seas'), dramatic synth melodies ('Was It Something I Said'), and McCluskey's now-warmly familiar 'soaring, sobbing vocals' ('The Speed of Light'), this is an album that, surprisingly, manages to evoke emotions in a similar way to some of the group's most successful earlier work.
The album is far from nostalgic, however- most songs veer more towards 'dancepop' (a genre that was becoming increasingly popular at the time) rather than 'synthpop' (which was more prevalent during the early '80s), and the lyrics seem more mature, tackling new themes like silent film stars, rejection and even evil itself.
Unfortunately, the very nature of dance music (often repetitive, with predictable song structures) means that 'Sugar Tax' can, initially, sound rather same-y all the way through. Once one really begins to listen to the songs, on the other hand- particularly their lyrics, and the passion that is obviously behind them- then it quickly becomes interesting, diverse and above all, enjoyable.
(N.B. The track 'Sugar Tax' itself was originally intended for the album, but due to the fact it was not finished in time for the album's release , was reduced to being the B-side of third single 'Then You Turn Away').
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