Bauhaus Staircase (100%)
As Richard Evans recounts in his book Listening To The Music The Machines Make: Inventing Electronic Pop 1978–1983, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s one-time label boss Carol Wilson once claimed, “We always said they didn’t know whether they wanted to be Joy Division or Abba!” Four and a half decades after forming, Bauhaus Staircase makes it clear they still don’t.
This is, after all, the band that toyed with the idea of calling themselves Margaret Thatcher’s Afterbirth but whose vocalist Andy McCluskey went on to invent Atomic Kitten. The duo whose most famous song is a pop classic named after the US plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
The dark has got darker since OMD’s previous album, 2017’s The Punishment Of Luxury, and Anthropocene and Evolution Of Species are bleak Kraftwerkian cyberpop predictions of a human-free future, while Veruschka stylishly evokes a chilly, grey Eastern European city (no, not Vienna).
It’s immediately followed, however, by the light relief of the Goldfrappy electro-glam of Slow Train, and elsewhere there are defiant declarations of resilience in the face of adversity. “Together we can stand against that fatal drowning tide,” McCluskey insists on Aphrodite’s Favourite Child. Here’s hoping resistance isn’t futile after all.
words BEN WOOLHEAD