Architecture & Morality

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Architecture & Morality
OMD - Architecture & Morality.png
Studio album by
Released6 November 1981 (1981-11-06)
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 is the third studio album by English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), released on 6 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 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.

Background[edit]

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 Corbusier and Aalto".[6][10]

Singles[edit]

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]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[14]
Daily Record5/5 stars[15]
Mojo4/5 stars[16]
The Philadelphia Inquirer4/5 stars[17]
Pitchfork8.7/10[18]
Q5/5 stars[19]
Record Collector5/5 stars[20]
Record Mirror4/5 stars[21]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[22]
Smash Hits9/10[23]

Architecture & Morality met with mixed reviews on release.[6] Lynden Barber of Melody Maker wrote, "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."[24] The Cavalier Daily's Brad Scharff applauded the album 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."[25] Daniela Soave of Record Mirror had at first resisted the record but gradually became a proponent. She said, "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]

Other journalists were unapologetically favourable. Andrew Dobbie of The Gazette hailed the record as "top of the line", and OMD "so multi-talented it's depressing to the less gifted".[26] Belfast Telegraph critic Jim Cusack called it 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, describing Architecture & Morality as "the first true masterpiece of the Eighties."[30] Other journalists have since called the record a "masterpiece"[29][31][32][33] as it has come to garner critical acclaim.[34]

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 observed that "much of the album sounds more naturalistic than electronic", describing it as "intriguing and highly inventive".[35] Quietus critic John Doran called the record "astonishing", and asserted, "There isn't a note out of place on Architecture & Morality... this is one of the finest 1980s pop albums." Doran also had praise for Saville's "austere" and "iconic" cover art.[36] Rick Fulton of the Daily Record saw Architecture & Morality as "one of the [electronic] genre's best albums".[15]

Legacy[edit]

Smash Hits readers voted Architecture & Morality the 10th-best album of 1981;[37] it later placed 13th in a Slicing Up Eyeballs reader poll of the year's greatest records.[38] In 2007, The Morning News ranked the album number one in a countdown of the best records of 1981, writing that "it's stood as the blueprint for synth-pop; few have approached an improvement upon its design."[2] Outlets as diverse as the St. Petersburg Times,[39] Mojo,[40] Uncut,[41] WFPK,[42] Phantom FM[43] and The Guardian[44] have included Architecture & Morality on lists of the best records of the 1980s and beyond, while the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die describes it as "not only [OMD's] best album but one of the greatest synth-pop albums ever released".[45] In the book Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s, author Lori Majewski wrote, "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."[46] Fact recognised the album as a "classic" and a "key influence on the 80s synth-wave explosion".[47] It has been spotlighted as a classic album by BBC Radio[48] and Classic Pop.[6]

Musicians Moby,[49] Frost,[50] and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon[51] 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."[49] The Charlatans vocalist Tim Burgess staged a Twitter listening party of the record, describing it as "genius" and "absolutely beautiful".[52] Architecture & Morality has received further endorsements from Anohni,[53] Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies,[54] Alex Naidus of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,[55] and Jonn Penney of Ned's Atomic Dustbin, who selected it as the record he would place on a Christmas wish list.[56] 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".[57]

Architecture & Morality has sold over four million copies.[6][12][13][58] All of its songs were included in the first part of the setlist on OMD's 2007 comeback tour,[59] which spawned the live album and DVD, OMD Live: Architecture & Morality & More (2008). The band also announced a 2021 40th anniversary tour based around the record.[60]

Track listing[edit]

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.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Certifications for Architecture & Morality
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[76] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[77] Platinum 300,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Womack, Andrew (4 April 2007). "The Top 10 Albums of 1981". The Morning News. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
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  5. ^ Nunn, Jerry (21 September 2011). "Andy McCluskey". GoPride. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
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  15. ^ a b Fulton, Rick (4 May 2007). "Singles and albums". Daily Record. One of the UK's most influential electro groups and one of the genre's best albums. It may have been released originally in 1981 but still sounds as fresh today.
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External links[edit]