1000 Albums Project


Architecture and Morality, by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Suggested by Bryan Connolly

Track 5 on Architecture and Morality is called Joan of Arc. Track 6? Also called Joan of Arc. But they added Maid of Orleans in parentheses, because why the hell not?

I can see the band meeting now…

“Andy, why are tracks 5 and 6 both called Joan of Arc?”
“I bloody love Joan of Arc, mate.”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit weird?”
“It’s good enough for New York, New York.”
“But that’s one song named twice, Andy. This is the opposite.”
“… and Louis Louis, and Mony Mony, and Doctor Doctor.”
“Doctor Doctor?”
“Won’t be released for another three years, mate, don’t worry about it.”
“We can’t call them both Joan of Arc, Andy. It makes us look like dickheads.”
“Fine. Slap Maid of Orleans after the second one. In brackets. Bosh! Done.”
“So the first is called Joan of Arc, and the second is called Joan of Arc (Joan of Arc’s nickname)?”

And the album name! “Architecture and Morality” … wow. Let’s all play that game! “Town Planning and Frivolity” … “Agriculture and Personal Ethics” … “Civil Engineering and UNDESCRIBABLE RAGE”.

This album is sparse. There’s little music for your money, with OMD preferring to colour in the silence than fill it with joyful abandon. I’ve a lot of time for that when it serves to heighten the music, such as Enya or Dido, Architecture and Morality does not achieve such a melodious Zen. It feels incomplete, untethered, as if the songwriters made a half-decent start then wandered off to the pub.

It’s vacuous, experimental, almost insulting, a flippant “that’ll do” without style or substance. The title track is particularly empty, so much so that at one point I raised my weary head in appreciation of a few bars that sounded vaguely like music, only to find that the tuneful tinkling I’d singled out for faint praise was actually one of my kittens climbing the kitchen counter and rubbing against a fully laden mug tree.

Some people might embrace the sparseness, finding beauty in the esoteric. Me, the base aesthete that I am, demands a little more bang for my buck. Even the standout track, the vaguely familiar Souvenir, can’t pull this back from the brink.

2/10. Bosh! Done.

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