Review : Ultravox - Brilliant
Consequence of SoundThe Foxx-era Ultravox was a futuristic and aggressive synth-pop act, indebted to both krautrock experimentalism and the punk rock movement. It did not meet with much success, but it’s generally regarded as one of the more innovative acts of the early New Wave movement. After Foxx left the band, Ultravox became one of the most popular and successful bands of New Wave’s commercial era and made a string of records that, while certainly not all that groundbreaking, nonetheless captured the epic melodrama that so defined the sound of the early ’80s. It was, basically, the European pop version of Van Halen vs. Van Hagar, but if David Lee Roth was more into the Velvet Underground than Black Oak Arkansas.
This “reunion” album brings vocalist/guitarist Midge Ure (a.k.a. Sammy Hagar) back together with the “classic” lineup of Chris Cross (bass), Billy Currie (synthesizers), and Warren Cann (drums), and revisits the unapologetically huge synth-rock sound that the band was so successful with between 1980 and 1986. Within the first minute of Brilliant, the skyscraping anthemry, the pulsing synth lines, and the gorgeous textures of “Live Again” immediately evoke the band’s Vienna/Rage in Eden era, during which legendary krautrock producer Conny Plank helped Ultravox connect the experimentalism of their early years with their mainstream ambitions. Contained within that song is pretty much any reason one would have to pay attention to an Ultravox album in 2012....full text
MetroGiven the fresh surge of interest in new-wave music, it seems right that Brit electro-rockers Ultravox should get some credit.
The band’s edgy origins (they were led by John Foxx before Midge Ure took over in the 1980s), elegant electro hits (most famously Vienna) and high drama themes have proved seminal.
Brilliant presents their first new material since their 2009 Return To Eden reformation.
It’s certainly a confident return; bold melodies such as the title track and Let It Lie swell with Midge’s theatrical vocals and a Celtic rock bombast (Flow appears to feature synthesized bagpipes – technology is not always a good thing).
They don’t really strive to update their reach beyond long-time devotees; despite catchy sparks on numbers such as Rise, this feels like a slightly wasted opportunity. ...full text
Music OMHIt takes some chutzpah to name your comeback album after a gap of 28 years Brilliant. Unfortunately, the new album from the revered electro pop group Ultravox markedly fails to live up to its title.
Led once again by Midge Ure, the line-up is the same as in their 1980s commercial heyday when they rose the crest of new romanticism and the UK’s fascination with all things electronic to become stadium filling kings of electro pop. Let’s not mention that thorny old business though of their über-melodramatic signature song Vienna being beaten to Number 1 by Joe Dolce's novelty hit Shaddap You Face....full text
The WestIt's easy to laugh. Ultravox's cold, melodramatic, shiny-suited future ran out nearly 30 years ago, their legacy to most a howl that "this means nothing to me" through the cobbled streets of a pointlessly exorbitant pop video (ah, Vienna).
That "classic" 80s line-up, led by incoming vocalist Midge Ure after John Foxx's departure, reunites here with brave new synth-wave flawlessly intact but an affecting human heartbeat beneath the chill.
The trudging Live Again is a misjudged opener that aims for triumphal resonance but falls foul of cliche and predictable melody....full text
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