Architecture & Morality is the third album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), released in 1981. It became a commercial and critical success, selling over 4 million copies by early 2007 and being hailed as the band's seminal work.[a] Its associated singles – "Souvenir", "Joan of Arc", and "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)", a retitled "Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)" – were international hits, selling more than 8 million copies combined.Architecture & Morality is widely regarded as one of the greatest electronic albums of the 1980s, with some publications hailing it as one of the best records ever made.
Musically, the album was notable for making liberal use of the mellotron, a mechanical tape-replay keyboard more commonly associated in Britain with progressive rock bands of the early 1970s than with the synthpop of the 1980s.
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 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".
Remixes of "The Romance of the Telescope" and "Of All The Things We've Made" appeared on OMD's next album, Dazzle Ships, released in 1983.
All of the album's songs were included in the first part of the setlist on OMD's 2007 comeback tour.
The artwork was produced by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens. Architecture & Morality was released several times with varying artwork, most notably in yellow, blue and grey but even green versions are available. The original cover from 1981 is light yellow/orange in a die-cut sleeve.
Architecture & Morality yielded three singles, all of which charted in the UK Top 5: "Souvenir" (#3), "Joan of Arc" (#5), and "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" (#4), a retitled "Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)". The singles were also highly successful on international charts, 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.
Initial critical reaction to Architecture & Morality was mixed. "We didn't think it got the respect it deserved", said McCluskey. "We put a lot into it and we really loved it...anything which undermines our own unstable balance creates a problem for us." Lynden Barber in Melody Maker annihilated the album. He wrote: "I don't believe the Orchs [OMD] 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." In his review for The Cavalier Daily, Brad Scharff applauded Architecture & Morality for its "interesting musical structures and vocals" but opined that it occasionally lapses into "tedium". He concluded: "While it is a flawed album, the positive aspects certainly outweigh its faults."Record Mirror journalist Daniela Soave had at first resisted the album but gradually became a proponent. She said: "Because it falls between creating one overall mood and a collection of classic pop Architecture & Morality requires more effort on the listener's part...Although I had misgivings initially Architecture & Morality is no disappointment.
Three years after the release of Architecture & Morality, a reflective article in Melody Maker exhibited a fervour that was absent from most contemporary reviews – particularly the one published in that magazine – wherein the album was called "the first true masterpiece of the Eighties." Critical opinion has continued to shift to a more favourable stance, with the record garnering near-unanimous acclaim in retrospective appraisals. Ned Raggett in AllMusic wrote: "[C]ombining 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 – more so because OMD owed nothing to the Fab Four." Raggett named singles "Souvenir" and "Joan of Arc", along with "The New Stone Age", as highlights and suggested that the album pointed toward the group's future sonic experimentation, saying: "[T]he heartbreaking 'Sealand' and 'Georgia' hint at where OMD would go next, with Dazzle Ships." In his review for Pitchfork Media, Scott Plagenhoef remarked: "Shaking off the dread of their music engaging with the public while simultaneously weathering critical scrutiny, OMD shows a greater facility for pop melody, crafting songs of aching fragility...Architecture & Morality is a bridge between synth-pop's more bleak, industrial beginnings and the shimmer and shine of ambitious New Pop." John Doran in The Quietus described the record as "astonishing", and asserted: "There isn't a note out of place on Architecture & Morality...this is one of the finest 1980s pop albums."
An international single release was planned for "She's Leaving", but the group ultimately reneged on the idea. Robin Denselow in The Guardian lauded the track as "the sort of song that Paul McCartney might have written if he'd grown up with the synthesiser bands of '81." Retrospectively, Gareth Ware in This Is Fake DIY described it as "arguably one of the finest non-singles in modern history"; Ned Raggett praised the song's "polished pop perfection" and suggested that it "would have made an inspired choice for a fourth single."
In recent years, publications like The Guardian, Mojo and the Tampa Bay Times, among others, have included Architecture & Morality in "greatest albums" lists; a 2007 article in The Morning News named the record as the best album of 1981 – a ranking it also holds at Sputnikmusic.[b] The record was selected as BBC Radio 6 Music's "Classic Album of the Day" on 21 November 2012.
^"OMD: The Videos". Episode 1/1. 1988. 35 minutes in. Channel 4. Andy McCluskey: "They [record labels] thought it would be a good idea to tack on 'Enola Gay' to the album [Architecture & Morality], which we originally did do in a few places, although I definitely thought the record was strong enough to sell itself."