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27/06/2012 : ULTRAVOX - Brilliant

ULTRAVOX

Brilliant

MusicCD
New waveSynth Pop / Electro Pop

[85/100]   

EMI
27/06/2012, Philippe BLACKMARQUIS

I really love the revival period we are going through! After the critically acclaimed return of John Foxx last year (see interview), we are now witnessing the come-back of Ultravox.

In the history of Ultravox, I have always been a big fan of the "John Foxx period" (76-79), mostly because they were the first to combine Punk with Krautrock, Glam and Art rock to create a new kind of music, which would later be called "new-wave" ("synth-pop"). Unfortunately, success didn't come for them and Ultravox had to break up. When Midge Ure revived the band a few months later, Ultravox found the right (commercial) recipe, thanks to catchy songs like "Vienna" and "Sleepwalk". Subsequently, Ultravox became one of the spearheads of the "New Romantic" movement and released very successful albums : "Rage In Eden" (with the single "The Voice"), "Lament" (with "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes") and "U-Vox". The sound of the band evolved from a minimal, more cold-wave sound in '80 (inspired by the "John Foxx period") to a more emphatic, symphonic power-pop in the following years.

After their break-up in '88, there was a new avatar in '93 (with Currie as only original member) and Ultravox reformed in 2008, originally only for a "Reunion Tour", which led them to the "Lokerse Feesten" in 2009. Seeing the success and the demand of the public, they decided to record a new album and to revive their career.

"Brilliant" is therefore the band's first album since "U-Vox" in... 1986! On this album, you will find the '79-'86 lineup with Midge Ure (vocals, guitars), Billy Currie (synths, violin), Warren Cann (drums) and Chris Cross (bass). The album features 12 new songs that perfectly fit in the typical Ultravox style of this period. You find exactly the same ingredients: huge sound, piano riffs played in octaves, high-pitched vocals, sophisticated harmonies and majestic choruses. The only difference is that Ure's voice has evolved a bit and sounds more mature.

The first three songs of the album, "Live", "Flow" and "Brilliant", the first single, form a very strong start with their skyscraping anthemry, pulsing synth lines, and gorgeous textures. With "Change", "Remembering" and "One", the tempo slows down and the band shows its ability to create touching romantic ballads with Kraftwerkian touches, while "Fall" presents a more sophisticated, progressive structure. "Lie", on the contrary, is another potential radio hit with its beefy symphonic tones, reminiscent of John Wetton's Asia. The album draws to a close with another typical hit, "Satellite" and a soft and poignant ballad, "Contact", featuring Currie's famous violin.

A great album! Even those who don't like the bombastic and commercial aspects of this Ultravox lineup will have to admit that the songs are pretty well crafted and very efficient. It's good to see them back together and I am looking forward to listening to these new songs live at the Trix, Antwerp on October 11th!

Philippe BLACKMARQUIS
27/06/2012


 

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