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Ultravox: Brilliant

Album Review

The synth-pop pioneers return with hubris-tempting title.

As arguably the first ever British synthpop band (their self-titled debut album was released in 1977, ahead of The Human League, Soft Cell, OMD et al) it makes sense that Ultravox should be the last to issue a comeback album. Following on from their sold-out reunion shows in 2009, Brilliant is their first album to feature the classic original line-up (or at least the one that gave us hits such as Hymn and Vienna, because John Foxx isn’t here) since 1984’s Lament, after which drummer Warren Cann left.

Now he’s back, as are singer Midge Ure, keyboardist Billy Currie and synth/bass whiz Chris Cross. And they’re making a fine noise indeed. 

They may not quite be purveying the sort of forbidding, punk-inflected synth-rock of 1977’s Ha! Ha! Ha!, and their chilling dystopian visions may have thawed somewhat, but there is no denying the imperious splendour of the title track or the jackhammer pulse of Rise

Sure, Midge Ure still sings as though delivering sermons from the mount, there is an air of pomp throughout Brilliant, and the band tend to belabour every melody on here. But then if they didn’t do that they wouldn’t be Ultravox, would they?

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