The Punishment of Luxury
RELEASE DATE: September 1st 2017
1) The Punishment of Luxury
3) Robot Man
4) What Have We Done
5) Precision and Decay
6) As We Open, So We Close
7) Art Eats Art
8 ) Kiss Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Bang
9) One More Time
10) La Miltrailleuse
11) Ghost Star
12) The View From Here
OMD - La Mitrailleuse
OMD - Isotype
To describe an album as 'a journey' is perhaps one of the most over-used clichés in music journalism. However, in relation to the path that OMD's thirteenth studio album 'The Punishment of Luxury' takes its listener on, to deny that every song takes you to somewhere different would almost certainly be an injustice.
We start with the title track (and second single) that with the didacticism of its lyrics provides us with an explanation of the concept of the album; 'the punishment of luxury is in the air for all to see/and its ugly now/ and it's getting worse every day'. It kicks the album off with stylish aggression (similar to the way 'New Babies; New Toys' opened 2010 album 'History of Modern', particularly in Andy McCluskey's punchy vocal delivery) and, if you'll excuse the reference to that ever-present cliché, sets the scene for what is to come on our 'journey'.
After this introduction of sorts, we are then presented with a trio of songs that prove just how finely OMD have mastered their craft: 'Isotype' (a Genetic Engineering-esque track and the first single to be lifted from the LP), 'Robot Man' (an infectiously catchy album cut with a grittiness that worms its way into the back of your brain) and 'What Have We Done' (featuring Paul Humphreys on lead vocals, and surely a contender for the LP's third single). Each of these are clear representations of the way McCluskey and Humphreys write- using the robotic, mechanical architecture of drum tracks and rhythms, and then complimenting them with the contrast of delightfully lingering melodies and the morality of their lyrics.
Finishing the first side of the record are tracks 'Precision and Decay' and 'As We Open, So We Close', which, with the former's talking voices contrasting with the latter's soaring synths, leave us perhaps a little bemused, yet anticipant as to what is coming next. They also mark another stage on our metaphorical pilgrimage, and within their lyrics remind us that, as per the title track, a luxury for one almost certainly means punishment for another.
So we move on to side two, opening with the upbeat (if a little repetitive) 'Art Eat's Art', and moving swiftly onto the risqué themes of the moody 'Kiss Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Bang'.
And then, as if they had been bubbling under the surface until now, we are rewarded with the real fruits of our journey.
Gorgeous ballad 'One More Time' reminds us of OMD's heartfelt, emotional side, whilst 'La Miltrailleuse' (inspired by a World War I painting of the same name by Christopher RW Nevinson) cleverly presents the concept of the punishment of war within its machine gun-like drums and disjointed vocal effects.
After this sudden surge of emotion and energy, we have the penultimate track 'Ghost Star'- a heartfelt confession of a song that allows the listener some much-needed time to reflect on what they have heard up until now.
Finally, we embark on the last stage of our journey. Closing track 'The View From Here' with its wispy synths and haunting melody, leaves its mark as a highly satisfactory finish to an album of emotional highs, gritty messages within its lyrics, and very, very few lows.
Yes, it is a cliché, but The Punishment of Luxury really is a journey- and one that you will want to take again and again.