Architecture & Morality

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Architecture & Morality
OMD - Architecture & Morality.png
Studio album by
Released6 November 1981 (1981-11-06)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark chronology
Architecture & Morality
Dazzle Ships
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 music band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. It was released on 6 November 1981 by Dindisc.[1] Hailed as the band's seminal work, the album received critical acclaim and has appeared on various lists of the best albums; The Morning News named it the finest record of 1981, and "the blueprint for synth-pop".[2] The album also became a commercial success, selling over four million copies by 2007. The record spawned three international hit singles, which together sold more than eight million copies.

Album information[edit]

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 the album's sleeve designer, Peter Saville at the time.[5]

Musically, the album was notable for making liberal use of the mellotron,[6] a mechanical tape-replay keyboard more commonly associated in the United Kingdom with progressive rock bands of the early 1970s than with the synth-pop of the 1980s.

Souvenir was the first track to be written for the album. Sealand was named after an RAF base on the Wirral, although the song is actually about an oil refinery. The title track was written in the studio over a 3 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.[7]

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".

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.

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; green versions are available as well. The original cover from 1981 is light yellow/orange in a die-cut sleeve.[citation needed]


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 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.[8] Joan of Arc was only released in the UK.[9] The three singles sold over eight million copies combined.[10][11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[12]
Daily Record5/5 stars[13]
Encyclopedia of Eighties Music4/5 stars[14]
Mojo4/5 stars[15]
The Philadelphia Inquirer4/5 stars[16]
Q5/5 stars[18]
Record Collector5/5 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[20]
Uncut4/5 stars[21]

Lynden Barber of Melody Maker criticised Architecture & Morality, 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."[22] In his review for The Cavalier Daily, Brad Scharff applauded the LP 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."[23] 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.[22] Andrew Dobbie of The Gazette hailed the LP as "top of the line", and OMD "so multi-talented it's depressing to the less gifted".[24]

"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."[25] 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."[26] Other journalists have since called the record a "masterpiece"[25][27][28][29] as it has come to garner critical acclaim.[30]

Trouser Press observed: "OMD is again experimenting with sound and much of the album sounds more naturalistic than electronic. An intriguing and highly inventive use of the technology."[31] Ned Raggett of AllMusic wrote: "If there was a clear high point for OMD in terms of balancing relentless experimentation and seemingly unstoppable mainstream success in the U.K., Architecture & Morality is it." Raggett saw the album as an indicator the group's future sonic adventures, saying: "[T]he heartbreaking 'Sealand' and 'Georgia' hint at where OMD would go next, with Dazzle Ships."[12] In an enthusiastic review for Pitchfork, Scott Plagenhoef described the record as "a bridge between synth-pop's more bleak, industrial beginnings and the shimmer and shine of ambitious New Pop."[17] John Doran of The Quietus called the LP "astonishing", and asserted: "There isn't a note out of place on Architecture & Morality... this is one of the finest 1980s pop albums."[32] Daily Record critic Rick Fulton saw it as "one of the [electronic] genre's best albums".[13]

An international single release was planned for "She's Leaving", but the group ultimately reneged on the idea. Robin Denselow of 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."[33] Retrospectively, Gareth Ware of DIY described it as "arguably one of the finest non-singles in modern history";[25] Ned Raggett praised the song's "polished pop perfection" and suggested that it "would have made an inspired choice for a fourth single."[12]


Architecture & Morality is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[34] In recent years, publications like The Guardian,[35] Mojo,[36] the Tampa Bay Times[37] and Phantom FM[38] have included it on lists of the best albums. In 2007, Andrew Womack of The Morning News named Architecture & Morality as the finest album of 1981, writing: "For the past 25 years, it's stood as the blueprint for synth-pop; few have approached an improvement upon its design."[2] In a 2013 listener poll, it was ranked the 13th best album of 1981, based on the opinions of almost 25,000 respondents.[39]

Architecture & Morality was selected as BBC Radio 6 Music's "Classic Album of the Day" on 21 November 2012.[40] The Charlatans vocalist Tim Burgess staged a Twitter listening party of the album on 14 April 2020, describing it as "absolutely beautiful".[41]

In February 2007, The Scotsman reported that the album had sold over 4 million copies.[42] BBC Music writer Amar Patel noted that among OMD's output, Architecture & Morality is "often regarded as their seminal work".[43]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
1."The New Stone Age" (writer: McCluskey)3:22
2."She's Leaving"3:28
3."Souvenir" (writers: Humphreys, Martin Cooper)3:39
Side two
5."Joan of Arc" (writer: McCluskey)3:48
6."Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)" (writer: McCluskey)4:12
7."Architecture and Morality"3:43
9."The Beginning and the End"3:48
2003 remastered CD bonus tracks
10."Extended Souvenir" (writers: 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
15."Of All the Things We've Made"3:25
16."Gravity Never Failed"3:24
2007 collector's edition bonus DVD
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


  • "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.




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[57] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Platinum 300,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


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  2. ^ a b c Womack, Andrew. The Top 10 Albums of 1981. The Morning News. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "OMD DISCOGRAPHY | SINGLES 1979 – 84". Official OMD website. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
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  14. ^ Larkin, Colin (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music. Virgin Books. p. 350. ISBN 0753501597.
  15. ^ Harris, John (December 2018). "OMD: Architecture & Morality". Mojo (301): 105.
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  17. ^ a b Plagenhoef, Scott (18 July 2003). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark / Organisation / Architecture & Morality". Pitchfork. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  18. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Architecture & Morality". Q (202). May 2003. OMD's 1981 masterwork [...] perfectly balanced the avant garde with top-flight songwriting, pooling those [Kraftwerk and Brian Eno] influences together for an unforgettable set that few in the genre have come close to matching.
  19. ^ Doran, John (June 2007). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Architecture & Morality". Record Collector (337). Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  20. ^ Evans, Paul (2004). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 607. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  21. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Architecture & Morality". Uncut (75). August 2003. A luxuriously bleak collage of avant-garde lullabies...
  22. ^ a b West, Mike. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Omnibus Press. 1982. ISBN 0-7119-0149X. p. 28.
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  58. ^ "British album certifications – OMD – Architecture and Morality". British Phonographic Industry. 4 February 1982. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Architecture and Morality in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]