Ultravox – Brilliant
Ultravox haven’t lost volume. They’re back on the scene with yet more reverb, echo and delay – new album Brilliant is drenched in vintage synths and makes like it’s the 80s all over again with this nostalgic pop-filled record. It seeks to recapture the glory days of their uninterrupted chart fodder of the early 1980s.
Vibrant and energetic, opening track Live Again is a promising start. Punchy rhythms alongside pumping guitar hooks reach the anthemic height of their new wave peak. However, this is a fleeting moment recalling their earlier commercial success, and the nostalgic concept soon gets tedious. Live Again boasts a soaring chorus that will burrow into your ear space, but it battles verses that relentlessly hark back to the golden days. It is still arrestingly well put together, but, is largely uninspired and industrialised.
Brilliant attempts to wedge the enthusiasm of earlier albums into a more mature frame, which results in a distinctly overblown record that discusses the personal, but never connects with it. Prime example of this is Rise which is only sporadically interesting, but confirms that Ultravox are staying true to their distinct and well established sound.
Closing track Contact provides light relief with its mellow, easy-listening sound. In contrast to the previous tracks, Contact is notably dark and delightful. Combined with whip-smart song-writing, it makes the track a real treat to look forward to after Brilliant’s journey of noise.
There are rare moments of melody buried deep under the cacophony, but, all in all, the 12-track record largely blends into one formless clash of sound.
While die-hard fans will cherish every moment of Brilliant, it is the kind of record that the rest of us will promptly switch off and see that the tide is out on New-Wave.
Brilliant is released by Chrysalis Records on 25th May 2012.