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With 2013's English Electric, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark made a record that paid tribute to their heroes Kraftwerk, while also embracing their own mid-'80s sound, which made them the darlings of the John Hughes set. They must have liked the formula they used to get that result, because they repeat it on 2017's The Punishment of Luxury. Now down to the duo of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, they've once again crafted a sleek and shiny synth pop album that has all the clean lines of their original incarnation and all the gloss of their poppiest era. It makes for a very nostalgic listening experience, but it never feels like a museum piece, especially since neither man's voice sounds like it has aged a day. The duo sound like they are having a blast on the kitschier tracks like "Art Eats Art" and "Robot Man," while also being proper studio boffins on songs like "Precision & Decay" or "La Mitrailleuse" that tip the scales in favor of art. As impressive as those two elements of their sound are, when they combine the gloss and the technique is when things really start getting good and they fully recapture the spirit of their best work. It mostly happens on uptempo, dancefloor-centered songs -- the pulsing title track is one fine example -- but the heartfelt ballads also benefit from their years of experience and skill. "One More Time" and "Ghost Star" are the kind of drop-dead beautiful ballads most of the bands that followed in OMD's footsteps wish they could make. In fact, The Punishment of Luxury is the kind of album they still wish they could make. It may be a little old-fashioned in places and there's the occasional track that doesn't work 100-percent, but the album is another strong showing from a band that could have packed it in years ago and become a nostalgia act, but have instead continued to make fine pop art.
Performance CreditsOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Primary Artist
Paul Humphreys Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Stuart Kershaw Drums,Group Member
David Watson Background Vocals
Andrew McCluskey Bass Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Martin Cooper Keyboards,Group Member
Technical CreditsAndy McCluskey Composer
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Producer,Engineer
Paul Humphreys Composer
John Petch Cover Art