Architecture & Morality

Architecture & Morality is the third studio album by English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), released on 8 November 1981 by Dindisc.[1] Inspired by religious music, the band sought to broaden their musical palette by utilising elaborate choral samples, the Mellotron, and other new instruments to create a more naturalistic, emotive sound. The artwork was designed by longtime OMD collaborator Peter Saville, along with Brett Wickens, while its title was derived from the book Morality and Architecture by David Watkin.

Architecture & Morality
OMD - Architecture & Morality.png
Studio album by
Released8 November 1981 (1981-11-08)
Recorded1980–1981
Studio
GenreSynth-pop[2]
Length37:13
LabelDindisc
Producer
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark chronology
Organisation
(1980)
Architecture & Morality
(1981)
Dazzle Ships
(1983)
Singles from Architecture & Morality
  1. "Souvenir"
    Released: 4 August 1981[3]
  2. "Joan of Arc"
    Released: 9 October 1981[3]
  3. "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)"
    Released: 15 January 1982[3]
  4. "She's Leaving"
    Released: 1982 (Benelux only)[4]

Architecture & Morality met with mixed reviews on release, but has since been recognised as one of the best and most influential works of its era; The Morning News named the album the greatest of 1981, and "the blueprint for synth-pop". The album became a commercial success, selling over four million copies and spawning three international hit singles – "Souvenir", "Joan of Arc" and "Maid of Orleans" – which together sold eight million copies.

BackgroundEdit

 
During recording, the band introduced a number of new instruments to their sound palette, including the Mellotron

During the recording sessions for Architecture & Morality, OMD were looking for a new musical direction. Frontman Andy McCluskey, a lifelong atheist, told how the group "found a lot of influence in the emotional power of religious music".[5][6] A catalyst in the development of their new sound was former OMD member David Hughes using the band's studio to manipulate choral samples he had recorded. Musically, the album is noted for making liberal use of those samples,[6] as well as the Mellotron, a mechanical tape-replay keyboard.[7] The band introduced other new instruments including prominent guitars on opening track "The New Stone Age", whose sound was intended to startle the OMD audience.[6] All of these measures combined to produce a more naturalistic, emotive sound than on previous OMD releases.[8] The compositions avoided the verse-chorus-verse format, utilising lengthy instrumental passages and substituting choruses with synthesizer lines. Lyrics were largely inspired by historical figures and events, including Joan of Arc, after whom two songs were named.[6]

According to the album's credits, its title was suggested to the band by Martha Ladly, formerly of Martha and the Muffins, after the 1977 book Morality and Architecture by David Watkin.[1] Ladly was the girlfriend of Peter Saville, the album's sleeve designer, at the time.[6] McCluskey felt the title Architecture & Morality represented the interplay between the human and mechanical aspects of OMD: "We had the 'architecture', which was the technology, the drum machines, the rigid playing, the attempt to break out of the box by playing specifically crafted sounds, and the 'morality', the organic, the human, the emotional touch, which we brought naturally."[6]

"Souvenir" was the first track to be written for the album. "Sealand" was named after the Royal Air Force Sealand base on the Wirral, although the song is actually about an oil refinery.[6] It is also a nod to the Neu! song, "Seeland".[9] The title track was written in the studio over a three-day period. The final track was an older composition which the band had attempted to record before but had shelved due to being unsatisfied with the results.[6] The tenth through sixteenth tracks of the remastered album are bonus tracks and were B-sides from the album's three singles, except "Gravity Never Failed" which was an out-take from the album sessions, originally intended to have been a single A-side, but not released until 1988 as the B-side of "Dreaming".[6] Remixes of "The Romance of the Telescope (Unfinished)" and "Of All the Things We've Made" appeared on OMD's next album, Dazzle Ships, released in 1983.

The artwork was produced by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens. Inspirations included "art movements like The Circle, and... mid-century iconic furniture like [Le] Corbusier and [Alvar] Aalto".[6][10]

SinglesEdit

Architecture & Morality yielded three singles, all of which reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart: "Souvenir" (number three), "Joan of Arc" (number five), and "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" (number four), a retitled "Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)". Two singles were also successful in a variety of territories, with "Souvenir" and "Maid of Orleans" each charting at number one in various European countries; the latter became Germany's biggest-selling single of 1982.[11] "Joan of Arc" was only released in the UK.[7] The three singles sold eight million copies combined.[12][13]

Dindisc wanted to release "She's Leaving" as a fourth single, but the group felt this would over-exploit the album; the label did proceed with a small-scale release in the Benelux region.[4]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [14]
Daily Record     [15]
Mojo     [16]
The Philadelphia Inquirer     [17]
Pitchfork8.7/10[18]
Q     [19]
Record Collector     [20]
Record Mirror     [21]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [22]
Smash Hits9/10[23]

The album met with mixed reviews on release.[6] Daniela Soave of Record Mirror wrote, "Because it falls between creating one overall mood and a collection of classic pop, Architecture and Morality requires more effort on the listener's part... Although I had misgivings initially, Architecture and Morality is no disappointment.[21] The Cavalier Daily's Brad Scharff observed a "flawed album" that occasionally lapses into "tedium", but had praise for much of the arranging and vocal work, concluding that "the positive aspects certainly outweigh its faults".[24] Lynden Barber of Melody Maker was negative, writing, "I don't believe the Orchs even care about this record... the style is the same, the content profoundly different, the onslaught of emptiness, frivolity disguised by furrowed brows, a new brand of meaninglessness."[25]

Other journalists were unapologetically favourable. The Gazette's Andrew Dobbie hailed Architecture and Morality as "top of the line" and OMD "so multi-talented it's depressing to the less gifted",[26] while Jim Cusack of the Belfast Telegraph referred to an "excellent album" by a band with "higher interests and concepts in music than most others of their genre."[27] The Evening Express stated, "'Souvenir' and the beautiful 'Joan of Arc' are obvious standouts but really any seven of the nine tracks are potential hits."[28]

"We didn't think it got the respect it deserved", said McCluskey in 1983. "We put a lot into it and we really loved it... anything which undermines our own unstable balance creates a problem for us."[29] The following year, a reflective article in Melody Maker exhibited a fervour that was absent from the publication's initial review, labelling Architecture & Morality "the first true masterpiece of the Eighties."[30] Various critics have since dubbed the record a "masterpiece"[a] as it has come to garner critical acclaim.[35]

Ned Raggett of AllMusic wrote, "Combining everything from design and presentation to even the title into an overall artistic effort, this album showed that OMD was arguably the first Liverpool band since the later Beatles to make such a sweeping, all-bases-covered achievement."[14] Trouser Press felt that "much of the album sounds more naturalistic than electronic", describing it as "intriguing and highly inventive".[36] Quietus editor John Doran called the record "astonishing", and asserted, "You will find a collection of three and a half minute long nuggets of pop gold... There isn't a note out of place on Architecture & Morality." Doran also had praise for Saville's "austere" and "iconic" cover art.[37] Author Lori Majewski said, "Architecture and Morality is so original, so special, so sublime, that if there were no other new wave bands to speak of, the entire genre could still hang its hat solely on that record."[38]

LegacyEdit

Architecture & Morality has appeared in various lists of the greatest albums of 1981;[b] The Morning News ranked it the best of the year, adding that "it's stood as the blueprint for synth-pop; few have approached an improvement upon its design."[2] Other publications have named it one of the greatest records of the 1980s and popular music in general,[c] with the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die describing it as "not only [OMD's] best album but one of the greatest synth-pop albums ever released".[49] Classic Pop named Architecture & Morality the eight-best electropop record in history,[51] while Fact identified the album as a "classic" and a "key influence on the 80s synth-wave explosion".[52] It has been spotlighted as a classic album by BBC Radio[53] and Classic Pop.[6]

Musicians Moby,[54] Frost,[55] and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon[56] have named Architecture & Morality one of their favourite records. Moby said, "I mean it's not hard to overdo the hyperbole, but it's a perfect album, so cohesive, and every song perfectly speaks to the other song, the unapologetic emotional quality of it is really inspiring. Even the artwork by Peter Saville, everything about it is perfectly crafted."[54] The Charlatans vocalist Tim Burgess staged a Twitter listening party of the record, describing it as "genius" and "absolutely beautiful".[57] Architecture & Morality has received further endorsements from Anohni,[58] Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies,[59] Alex Naidus of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,[60] and Jonn Penney of Ned's Atomic Dustbin, who selected it as the record he would place on a Christmas wish list.[61] The album is referenced in a 1997 episode of BBC Two series I'm Alan Partridge, where the title character notes that it features "some classic electro-rock".[62]

Architecture & Morality has sold over four million copies.[d] All of its songs were included in the first part of the setlist on OMD's 2007 comeback tour,[64] which spawned the live album and DVD, OMD Live: Architecture & Morality & More (2008). The band also staged a 2021 40th anniversary tour based around the record.[65]

Track listingEdit

All songs by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, except where noted

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."The New Stone Age" (McCluskey)3:22
2."She's Leaving"3:28
3."Souvenir" (Humphreys, Martin Cooper)3:39
4."Sealand"7:47
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."Joan of Arc" (McCluskey)3:48
6."Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)" (McCluskey)4:12
7."Architecture and Morality"3:43
8."Georgia"3:24
9."The Beginning and the End"3:48
2003 remastered CD bonus tracks
No.TitleLength
10."Extended Souvenir" (Humphreys, Cooper)4:16
11."Motion and Heart" (Amazon version)3:07
12."Sacred Heart"3:30
13."The Romance of the Telescope" (unfinished)3:22
14."Navigation"3:00
15."Of All the Things We've Made"3:25
16."Gravity Never Failed"3:24
2007 collector's edition bonus DVD
No.TitleLength
1."Souvenir" (promo video)3:25
2."Joan of Arc" (live on Top of the Pops, 29 October 1981)2:58
3."Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" (promo video)4:02
4."Almost" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:54
5."Mystereality" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)2:41
6."Joan of Arc" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:25
7."Motion and Heart" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)2:58
8."Maid of Orleans" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:14
9."Statues" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:49
10."Souvenir" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:25
11."The New Stone Age" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:02
12."Enola Gay" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)3:29
13."Bunker Soldiers" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)2:47
14."Electricity" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)4:17
15."She's Leaving" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)4:26
16."Julia's Song" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)4:25
17."Stanlow" (live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 4 December 1981)6:28

Notes

  • "Navigation" is edited some 30 seconds shorter at the end; the full original length version (3:26) is available on Navigation: The OMD B-Sides.
  • Disc one of the 2007 collector's edition is the same as the 2003 remastered CD.

PersonnelEdit

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Certifications for Architecture & Morality
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Netherlands (NVPI)[81] Gold 50,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[82] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[83] Platinum 300,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

ReferencesEdit

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NotesEdit

External linksEdit