15 May 2017
‘Bend your body to the will of the machine’
‘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’.
Signed first to Factory Records and then snapped up by Virgin, the duality inherent in OMD was plain to see from the start, as Peter Saville’s minimalist artwork belied the warmth of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys’ timeless songwriting. 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.
Now they return with their thirteenth album ‘The Punishment of Luxury’, 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.” The album was recorded in their respective studios in Merseyside (Andy) and London (Paul) with the final mixes handled by both at Paul’s. 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.
The album takes its name from an 1891 painting by the Italian divisionist Giovanni Segantini that hangs in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, where it caught Andy’s eye. Divisionism is a technique of painting similar to pointillism, and Segantini’s painting, ‘The Punishment of Luxury’, depicts two women, condemned for having ideas “above their station”, floating in a limbo of purgatory in an Alpine landscape. “We appropriated the title for something else,” explains Andy. “In a nutshell: most people in the western world are now materially better off than their predecessors ever were and yet we are unhappier because we have replaced the imagined order of religion and royal decree with the imagined order of marketing and commercial propaganda. So everybody thinks they need more stuff and now we have loads of things that we don’t need because we’ve been persuaded we do. Everybody is miserably unhappy and that is the punishment of luxury.”
Rob Brydon is perhaps best known for the television shows Gavin and Stacey, Would I Lie To You? and The Trip as well as Marion and Geoff, Human Remains, Little Britain, The Rob Brydon Show, Best of Men, Gangster Granny and Q.I. His film work includes The Huntsman : Winter’s War, Cinderella and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Earlier this year in London’s West End he starred opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in The Painkiller. His other theatre credits include Future Conditional at The Old Vic and A Chorus of Disapproval at The Harold Pinter Theatre.
These dates are Rob Brydon’s first stand up shows since his sell out national tour and West End run of 2009.