Ultravox - Brilliant (1 star)

Ultravox - Brilliant

Dull and pompous record from the no-longer-relevant Ure and co

Does the world really need another album, the first in 26 years, from the ‘classic’ Midge Ure-era Ultravox – a group of negligible lasting impact on music even at their mid-80s arena synth-pop zenith? The Trade Descriptions Act-violating Brilliant is another of those new old records for diehard fans to apologise for while quietly ignoring the fact that such a half-arsed exercise in nostalgia merely craps on their cherished memories.

It’s the sound of a band who either couldn’t make their music seem relevant or couldn’t be bothered to: a desolately uninteresting lunar landscape of portentous piano melodies and wheezy antiquated synth sounds, booming drums, bombastic guitars and Ure’s clenched vocals swathed in ridiculous echo, echo, echo, as if their dull pompousness requires repeating, repeating, repeating.

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Ultravox

Midge Ure's band, back together again and on the reunion trail in support of their new album Brilliant.

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1. Cerise25 May 2012, 8:50am Report

Wow. I think I can honestly say that was the laziest, worst-researched review I've ever seen. And that's going some.

Here's the bit that made me laugh the most: "a group of negligible lasting impact on music even at their mid-80s arena synth-pop zenith". Soooo... I take it you don't know of their massive impact on synths, or the pop video, or Gary Numan, or bands like Keane these days? No?

You're welcome to your own opinion of the album of course, but you might have researched their past achievements a bit. Ah, perhaps you weren't even alive then... a bit too far back to dig?

Well, take it from a fan of 32 years' standing - I certainly won't be apologising for this album. I absolutely love it. And if other fans' feedback so far is anything to go by, they're certainly not disappointed, either.

2. Marty Mcfly25 May 2012, 10:00am Report

Being a fan I have my opinions on the new album but the fact you haven’t even bothered listening to the whole album says it all but then I know my history unlike this piece of badly written drizzle by a 18 year old chav and can do more than 40 so words stick with your day job Malcolm collecting unemployment benefit.

3. Simona25 May 2012, 10:57am Report

Wow. I'm still not sure if I'll really like the record, but one thing here is clear. As a reviewer you don't have any respect for artists, it looks like you're a frustrated musician who can't actually make it in the music-biz so you vomit your anger against someone who spent his time, feelings and commitment to create something, rather than destroy someone else's job as you do. The violence you use in your words is totally unnecessary to understand what sort of record this is because it doesn't review a thing. It's just a list of insults. It means nothing to me.

4. Duckorange25 May 2012, 11:15am Report

Poor, wrong Malcolm Jack

5. Kompani25 May 2012, 11:37am Report

Malcolm Jack has dribbled a sloppy review of what, on listening to the video and iTune samples, will be a very good album produced by a group who knows its place in the pantheon of British music.

6. Pulcinella26 May 2012, 2:55pm Report

Does the world really need this album? YES!
What a ray of hope in times of Bieber & Co
Does the world need an incompetent and unobjective reviewer like you? NO!

7. SJI27 May 2012, 8:46pm Report

This review really angers me.

For sure, some of what it says are admittedly true in some respects.....

Does 'the world' need another Ultravox album after 26 years - maybe it doesn't, if 'the world' being referred to is generally mostly interested in r'n'b, Bieber, Adele, Tinie Tempah, etc. But 'the world' also contains people who still revere their favourite artists. Those fans can be big on Ultravox, OMD, Black Sabbath, Rush, PiL, Jimmy Cliff... whoever. For sure, the majority of the world doesnt NEED new material from these bands and artists. But their own fans are still interested, and the bands/artists are having fun making new stuff, so what's not to like? If the vast majority of the world isn't interested then so be it, it's mainly just for the fans, new material by most of these kind of artists is not going to trouble the Top 10 or even Top 40, in some cases. But the fans of these acts are going to appreciate hearing it, and the artists have a great time making the songs and gigging them afterwards.

So why write such a destructive review of this kind of 'comeback' album? It helps no-one. Most people under the age of 40 haven't even heard of Ultravox. And they never will. Anyone over 40 who has heard of them but never liked them will not read this review either. The only people who will read it are likely to be fans of the band. And maybe even the band themselves. So why go to the trouble of reviewing it then being so pointlessly negative? It's fairly clear the reviewer doesn't like the band and never did [otherwise one would expect some kind of references or comparisons to their past work to be mentioned in the review].

I really think The List should either get a reviewer who likes the genre that the acts are being reviewed belong to, to give them a reasonable chance of not being slagged off, or else don't bother reviewing it at all.

For sure, as a huge fan of Ultravox, I have one hell of a sense of humour and I don't think they're beyond criticism. For a non-fan they sure as hell sound quite portentous, pompous, too much piano and violin, drums a bit thuddy, soaring echoey vocals. Yes, maybe they do. But that's Ultravox. We love their sound. And as all their fans know, whilst the material often does sound quite grand etc, the guys involved actually have a great laugh doing their stuff and working together and touring.

If you don't like Ultravox, Mr Jack, why bother attempting to review them?

I respectfully ask you to remove this review from The List website, as it's just inflammatory, and you're going to get a lot of flak.

I think 'Brill!ant' is a great album - it has 7 or 8 killer new songs, a few more that are slower in pace and clearly are 'growers' but not so immediate, and maybe one 'difficult' song which may itself unfold after a few plays to being a good song too. Who knows. Ultravox aren't perfect. But the fans love them for what they are, and they are going to be delighted with this album and the tour this coming autumn.

Respect to Ultravox, and no respect to you Mr Jack.

8. The Voice UK28 May 2012, 10:51am Report

Someone is trying to make a name for themselves here. Whether or not some of the comments in the review are fair or not, I don't know, having not heard the album yet and yes calling an Album Brilliant is asking for abuse from some, but the way the reviewer tears into Ultravox is unnecessary and obviously aimed at attention grabbing, which it achieves. Other comments about the groups contribution to music is unfair. On its own, Vienna, is more of a contribution than the majority of groups make, but Ultravox backed this up with a string of top 10 hits to prove they were no one-hit wonders.
The review is sadly just an insult exercise, and without any references to the album itself, fails to prove the reviewer even listened to the album. As a professional journalist, he has let himself down with some shoddy work, regardless of being entitled to his own opinion about the album and group.

9. robak28 May 2012, 1:18pm Report

I feel like I shouldn't encourage this 'reviewer', and make him chuckle that he's succeeded in riling Ultravox's fans, but this is a barely disguised diatribe masquerading as a review, so I'm not surprised folk are taking you to task. Had you spoken about the music and your thoughts on it, that's fine - your opinion entirely as to it's merits - but to make sweeping, historicaly inaccurate statements just isn't good enough. I say withdraw it too, and let someone who genuinely loves music in all it's shapes and forms give it a fair hearing.

As to whether the world "needs" another album by Ultravox - I bet no one will be asking the Beach Boys that about their new work. And, I have to say that, while I'm sure people were worried if Brilliant would live up to their high standards, it by no means besmirches their reputation in the way a few high profile reunions have in the past. Ultravox took the Madness route, play live for a few tours first and then if the ideas flow try them out in the studio. No harm in that, these are highly creative people.

But then I'm guessing you don't appreciate craft. Set aside your preferences and giuve it another airing.

10. Balboa29 May 2012, 12:03am Report

Malcolm Jack, a nobody who never was and never will be anything important, trying to draw attention like an infantile, menstruating tween, slanders a band whose music he is obviously unfamiliar with.

I wouldn't even bother calling that uninformed, worthless mess of "writing" (a term I use loosely) a review. It is filled with nothing but uninformed, pseudo-intellectual drivel which fittingly comes from the mind of a cunt devoid of even a glimmer of independent thought, logic and rationality. Wow, he has a bloated sense of self importance and an inflated ego, like most failures who become critics. How impressive.

I find it utterly laughable how people these days worship and practically deify bands like Muse and The Killers whenever they are absolute rip-offs of Midge Ure era Ultravox (as well as a few others from that era). Ultravox, both with John Foxx and Midge Ure during their respective eras, have always been innovative, unique and cutting edge. The only time they dropped the ball was when they made "U-Vox" due to numerous reasons, but even that had a few good songs. I love how wannabe journalists use the term "pompous" and "pretentious" so excessively, whenever they don't even remotely apply to the subject at hand. "Brilliant" is an extraordinary album, which a lot of effort and passion were put into. It sounds like the natural progression from the finale of "Lament."

This "person" (another term I use loosely) can go stick Muse's last album up his prissy little ass. I'll stick with the legends and innovators.

11. katameringue29 May 2012, 1:09pm Report

the problem with music reviews is that taste dictates opinion so much, but only if the reviewer is a tad short on journalistic skills.
I remember reading reviews in the early eighties from the likes of Nick Kent, who slated Gary Numan with such vitriol, that it became comic.
The passage of time has seen many 'credible' recording artists citing the victim of mr Kent's ranting as a major influence. It kind of tarnishes the reviewer's reputation somewhat.
This review of Brilliant is so focussed on the negative, that it baffles me why someone would submit themselves to even more ridicule than they have administered in their own posting.
Music is so very diverse, the notion of whether a particular offering is needed shows such a blinkered view that I can't get my head around the thought processes of the writer.
There are a lot of musicians that I personally don't find remotely interesting, even irritating. Everyone has their own. For me it's Robbie Williams. If he comes on the radio, I have to retune as quickly as possible. But I can fully see why a section of the world love him. Were I to review an album of his, I would certainly express my personal opinions, and they would be less than flattering., but it would also need to be countered with how well crafted and marketed it is to thirty eight year old ladies, who will lap it up and beg for more.
Ultravox have a significant number of people who want more from the band. How can that be dismissed so decisively?
This reviewer could possibly be of the opinion that in order for music to be credible, it has to be current, or innovative, or original. Wrong. If an artist fills all those criteria but still doesn't float your boat, you won't be downloading anything from them.
If you enjoyed the music of your youth, and thirty years on, are treated to some more of the same, for you that is just what the doctor ordered.
There's no space limit for musical output, the world can recieve an unlimited ammount, no one is denied as a result of Ultravox releasing a new album, so what's the problem? It's more relevant, accomplished, credible, enjoyable than other fare for someone who likes the band. And there are a lot of people who love Ultravox.
So what if it recreates a sound from decades ago? U2 have been doing that continuously for many decades, but I would't condemn them for that. They know what their fans like, and they deliver it to a grateful audience.
Rap music is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I hate it, but so what? It's skillfully crafted and deserves a place to be heard for those who want to.
I have to reiterate, music doesn't need to be current to be credible.
There's a whole world of classical music that's hundreds of years old, why can't pop music be allowed to mature with the same respect?
It's like theres a timeframe that needs to be crossed to gain acceptance. Thirty odd years isn't enough for some people.
1930's blues is immune from vitriolic 'nostalgia' labeling.
I say, don't be so influenced by trend, broaden your opinions, and become more accepting of a difference in tastes.

12. patoche31 May 2012, 12:27am Report

Mon pauvre ami,
De fait, tu n'étais pas né pour raconter de pareilles âneries. ULTRAVOX était exceptionnel et son influence a été gigantesque. Même si "Brilliant" me déçoit un peu, cet album est TRES intéressant.

Translating :
My poor old guy,
In fact, you we're born to tell stupid things like this. ULTRAVOX was fantastic and it's influence was enormous. Even if "Brilliant" is disappointing, it's a VERY interesting album.

13. mr2man31 May 2012, 1:55pm Report

Such vitriol Mr. Jack. Did the Ultravox lads once insult your grandmother or commit some other vendetta producing misdeed? I just went and ordered the album just to p1ss you off.

14. Gazz31 May 2012, 10:25pm Report

Well, Malcolm, you clearly know JACK about music, or indeed manners. I think it's a very good album, and is a welcome, and long overdue return for Midge and the band. These guys are legends, and as has been said before, they influenced many, unlike your diabolical excuse for a 'review'.

Don't give up your day job, assuming someone was stupid enough to employ you.

15. Richard Todd1 Jun 2012, 8:51pm Report

Ok I read this review by this Male Member! And thought I'm joining this site to give my opinion on this album. I wouldn't call myself a massive Ultravox fan but I downloaded this as I heard the title track on TV. Quiet honestly there has never been a better time for an album like this to be released, we are living in a time where pop stars behave like naughty school kids infront of Simon Cowl, there is so much meaningless crap being released on a daily basis probably recieving rave reviews from the idiot that wrote this. Ultravox have been true to themselves and there original sound, and do you know what, why the hell not, it's a good one!

16. Richard Todd1 Jun 2012, 9:05pm Report

I forgot to say ;-). These guys are all talented musicians, they could quiet easily have released something in a so called more modern style.. It's not that hard, even I've got sample libraries a few computer synths and Cubase.. Ultravox have used the classic analogue synth sounds by choice.. They sound great and are the most sort after by modern day keyboard players.. The retro sound is actually very cool again.. Lol.. This is such a crap review for such a great album and would be such a shame if this idiot puts anyone off from listening to it. Peace ;-p

17. Jackson2 Jun 2012, 4:37pm Report

After listening to this album for over 3 hours I can say that the album does grow on you, The tracks Live,Flow, Brilliant,Hello, Lie and Satelite are my favourites due to the up tempo of them, Pure class with Midge's guitar working so well with the Synth's.

Great album and cant wait to hear these songs on tour.

8.5 out of 10. Welcome back guy's.

18. Eric Diamond4 Jun 2012, 6:57pm Report

I found this review offensively bad. Yes, having listened to what passes as pop music today, We do need some actual songwriting talent. Which Ultravox delivers. Sweeping, cinematic, evocative, it is nice to see the boys back and delivering after almost 30 years. I'd love to see Kanye, Katy Perry and Mr. Bieber deliver the same.

Did Ultravox get pompous in the mid 1980s? Sure. I'm sure Midge cringes when he remembers those long coats, the ponytail and the mustache. But at their core, Ultravox reveals some essential truths, that remain, when the mustache is shaved, the hair recedes and styles change. First, while they are each talented in their own right, together they are magic. Second, that they are their best when they tell stories that are filled with mystery, ambiguity and paint pictures when you close your eyes. When they try to be preachy, it didn't work so well. Ultravox isn't U2. And Brilliant, while ambitious, is not perfect. That's good. I want to see them stretch. There are enough great songs on the album that makes it worth it. The guys are certainly older, but sonically, they've lost nothing, and gained better tech, and tighter musicianship. They may not look as pretty, but they are cooler than they ever were.

I hope, sincerely hope that these guys stay together, and find new ways to tell those stories. There are millions of them, waiting to be told. And while Ultravox's style may not appeal to the same demographic that worships in the Church of MTV, Their music will be there for those whose taste outgrows "Baby baby baby" and they look for something a little more evocative, a little more interpretive.

Welcome back guys. You've been missed. And yes, the world needs a new Ultravox album. Now more than ever.

19. Malcom Malcom Malcom..5 Jun 2012, 2:16pm Report

Dear Malcom,

Please refrain from printing such badly researched shite in the future, it's pretty obvious that you have no real basis for your statements nor do you have the musical ken to comprehend what is going on here.
This album is a work of art, such a thing of beauty that will always pass over the heads of minded bastardoes like your good self.

The fact that you even work for the list says it all.
Would I be right in saying that you are a failed musician who is also Radiohead & Belle & Sebastian fan?
How did I know this?...
Basically what I'm saying is this....I can smell your pretentious cuntishness a mile off.

"Faithless in faith, we must behold the things we see"

20. Malcolm Jack18 Jun 2012, 1:58pm Report

Hi,

Thanks for all of your responses to this review – always good to see people defending a band they’re passionate about, and in a spirit of reasoned and healthy debate I’m going to respond. Though not to the nastier criticisms – granted, my review is hard, but I make no personal attack on the band themselves and don’t see why my character is fair game for slagging. I’m a nice guy, honest.

Just to show that I’m neither ‘incompetent and unobjective’, ‘historically inaccurate’ or ‘a tad short on journalistic skills’, I’m going to take you line-for-line through the review and my reasoning.

---

‘Does the world really need another album, the first in 26 years, from the ‘classic’ Midge Ure-era Ultravox – a group of negligible lasting impact on music even at their mid-80s arena synth-pop zenith?'

A very acute angle of entry into a review – I’ll admit to being a little taken-aback by how harsh that first line sounded upon reading it back. But then, I remembered what the overriding feeling I experienced from this album was, and that was irritation, maybe even anger. The reformation bandwagon has been travelling at full tilt for several years now, and Ultravox are neither the first nor last band to jump on it. But I feel like much more severe distinction needs to be made between bands who are finding new relevance or even rising to the challenge of modern music (or at least trying to), and those dully cashing in on nostalgia without bringing anything new to the table – particularly those that weren’t up to much first time around. If bands/labels are prepared to hire PR companies to send copies of albums like Brilliant to journalists, and expect reviews on the same terms as current bands, then they need to be prepared to hear a few nakedly honest criticisms just like the rest.

My ‘group of negligible lasting impact’ line stems principally from reading Simon Reynolds’ definitive history of post-punk Rip It Up and Start Again. Reynolds characterises Ultravox as being extremely peripheral, latecomer players in the rise of synth-pop – always followers rather than leaders. The best British bands of the post-punk era (New Order, The Associates, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, The Human League etc) were making exciting music that was either highly artistic, cunningly subversive, unashamedly catchy, deeply intellectual, provocatively controversial or some combination of the above, and they all challenged conventions, not to mention went on to influence all kinds of great and important music thereafter. In the Midge Ure era, Ultravox – who had looked much more promising prior to the departure of John Foxx (whose latest album like much of his solo stuff is excellent, I should add) – were the sound of dispassionate opportunism: exponents of mock serious-sounding mainstream rock, mixing obligatory zeitgeisty synth flourish with a low-grade facsimile of the raincoat brigade’s furrowed-brow seriousness. It might have worked and still work for some people, and that’s fine – we all take what we need from music – but Midge Ure period Ultravox can be credited only as champions of blandness, with their heavy songs conspicuously light on substance. In short, we can squarely blame them for Keane and Coldplay.

‘The Trade Descriptions Act-violating Brilliant is another of those new old records for diehard fans to apologise for while quietly ignoring the fact that such a half-arsed exercise in nostalgia merely craps on their cherished memories.’

To me, Brilliant fails to acknowledge the last 27 years of music, and I find that arrogant and lazy. It’s a record plainly aimed only at diehard fans – it might as well have been made in 1986 and locked away in a safe. Locked away for good reason, because it’s got no tunes – no great hooks, no memorable melodies, no unforgettable choruses, no unusual changes of pace, mood or direction. I can recall not one defining feature of any single song, despite listening to it on repeat for the best part of a day, and that is unimpeachably damning.

Why would any Ultravox fans want this to be their latest and possibly last experience of a band that clearly means so much to them? This is the crux of my gripe with the reformation rush – while some bands (and note my five star review of the new Dexys album in the same issue of The List) are returning to take care of unfinished business with real heart and soul, others, however honest their intentions might be, are only displacing with something inferior, in whole or in part, the enduring, meaningful experience real or imagined which their fans treasure. Little a reformed New Order, Simple Minds, Ultravox or countless others do – their spirit, inspiration and possibly even friendships having long since abandoned them – can probably ever top what they did for you, as a fan, in their heyday. Even if you weren’t around then, pour over Youtube footage and let your imagination do the rest – it’s almost certainly better than watching tired, balding men go through the motions in a soulless corporate-sponsored arena/festival.

‘It’s the sound of a band who either couldn’t make their music seem relevant or couldn’t be bothered to: a desolately uninteresting lunar landscape of portentous piano melodies and wheezy antiquated synth sounds, booming drums, bombastic guitars…’

Note that this review was written for a print publication, not the web – space was very limited, so I had to be economical. I usually aim to make direct reference to two or three songs in any album review I write, and I set out to do that here. But then I remembered that – as mentioned above – nothing stands out for me on this album. It all sounds like one long, tedious, soundalike mulch. What better way to express my experience of this completely featureless journey than by not signposting any specific sites? It’d just be misleading to drill down into an album that, after several hours of listening, demanded no such effort.

‘… and Ure’s clenched vocals swathed in ridiculous echo, echo, echo, as if their dull pompousness requires repeating, repeating, repeating.’

Seriously, Midge, quit it with the echo.

---

I don’t expect any of your opinions to be changed, but I trust this will at least prove to you that my review wasn’t thoughtless – I gave serious consideration to my verdict on Brilliant, as I do anything I write. Thanks for reading in any case.

Malcolm Jack

21. lio24 Jun 2012, 4:24pm Report

Malcolm
Does the world really need your review?

22. Cerise25 Jun 2012, 11:14am Report

Thanks for your response, Malcolm - it's nice to know that at least it wasn't a thoughtless, throwaway piece like so many reviews appear to be.

Do I think this is the best thing Ultravox have ever written? No, Rage in Eden remains my runaway favourite, and I don't think that's just nostalgia and familiarity speaking. But I do think Brilliant has its place, and that it's a more fitting epitaph (if indeed this turns out to be the last - who knows?) than 'the dreaded pink thing' from 1986, U-Vox. I and no doubt many others will thoroughly enjoy seeing the band play it live in September.

So did the world need another Ultravox album? Who knows, but I can say for sure that their fans certainly did.

Cheers,
Cerise.
www.ultravox.org.uk

23. C.3 Jul 2012, 11:41pm Report

I think it can be seriously pointed out that this review is a very bad and amateurish one. Certainly, it IS a review, and it states a clear opinion, but apart from that, I must say it fails miserably, and does not meet the standard level of music journalism, unless one considers the gutter press low-brow level the very zenith of journalistic writing.

A good review will focus on delivering the context of the respective record - then a description of the music the record contains - finally, the reviewer's judgement.

The "reviewer" of this record, evidently, got it all mixed up. Although he'd certainly be entitled to put his thumbs down when it comes to rating this recod (for that matter, I don't - I think it's the best Ultravox album since Rage in Eden!), he dysmally fails in meeting only the very basic aspects of journalist's standards. There are so many derogatory statements thrown in at the very early state of the review so that any description of the music is going to be neglected, were one to follow the reviewer.

If a negative conclusion would have stood at the end of the review, after a genuine description of the music this record contains, it would have been acceptable.

But this way, it is, unfortunately, an intellectually inferior piece of writing submitted by someone who, according to this review, does not have the cognitive capacity to differentiate between description and judgement (and I am stating this as a non-native speaker from Germany!), which is ultimately very pitiful for any reviewer of music.

Hence, I would like to conclude that anyone is perfectly entitled not to like the new Ultravox album. I think that this is a great piece of work, however. But any casual listener should be given the chance of getting an overview of what to expect from this record. The reviewer in question here does not seem to be capable of delivering the respective goods, since he seems to have pther axes at a grind.

However, let me assure you, that anyone who loved the Ultravox 1979-1984 line-up will feel anything but let down by this excellent record.

24. Baz White27 Jul 2012, 8:03pm Report

Wow.... I just had to sign up to comment on this review.

Who employed this man? i hope he didn't get paid for this 'piece of work'.

His review was neither imformative, constructive or even very well written. Instead it was just a torrent of hatefull spew...

I have the album and I don't share any of this professional's views.

I have just watched a YouTube video about the Olympics with this as the title track of this album as the backing music and it sent shivers down my spine. I can't think of a better recommendation than that!

I think I'll end my personal review on that note.

If you want to watch the YouTube Video, it's here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V7K4kifvTU

'Be Well'

25. ml99mos8 Aug 2012, 8:01pm Report

Malcolm,

pleeeeeeease do not call this a "review", since it is not, no matter how, with hindsight, you try to justify your gibberish, gibberish, gibberish

26. Bex6813 Aug 2012, 3:22pm Report

I too have read Simon Reynolds book, and whilst it was an interesting read, I found Reynold’s scope and perspective to be somewhat limited. I’d hardly call it the definitive work on the music period, which when examined is as diverse and fragmented as it is today. The difference being between then and now was that back then, the charts were everything and record companies ruled the roost. Nowadays the charts are irrelevant, and artists can sell directly to the fans, by-passing the fading record companies completely.

I digress. I’m going for I am going to rebut this argues in support review, by addressing the issues and arguments presented.

In 2004, Band Aid 20 was released and at the time, Midge Ure was asked by he didn’t produce it. The reply was to the effect that if had, it would have sounded much the same as the original for that was his take on the song. So, in order to bring in something different and new, other people were brought it to create a new sound for the 21st Century re-recording. Every musician/band have a style that is unique to them. Okay production techniques, technology etc has changed things, but most bands have a musical template that defines them. A few, very few deviate from it, and those who do it successfully could be counted on one hand. The Beatles and Queen definitely. Eurythmics maybe. Blur perhaps.

The review cited a number of Acts as the best of the post-punk era and lets looks at some of those in more detail. New Order, successful and influential no doubt about it. The Associates- really? Numan, yes brilliant, hugely influential in his own right- and freely citing the Foxx era Ultravox as a major influence. Depeche Mode? The Human League? The former only really became interesting in the mid-eighties onwards, and the latter owes their success more to the work of Martin Rushdent that their own labours. Look how post their post Dare albums turned out....

Then there is the reference to the Foxx era Ultravox and its influences. Let’s not beat about the bush.. it was profoundly influential over a whole generation of acts, and three of the musicians involved in those records worked on Brilliant. Also the description of the Ure era vox- obviously written to be inflammatory – “mixing obligatory zeitgeisty synth flourish with a low-grade facsimile of the raincoat brigade’s furrowed-brow seriousness..... as champions of blandness, with their heavy songs conspicuously light on substance” belies either a subjective point of view that would predispose anyone holding such views not to be positive about new Ultravox material, or a fundamental ignorance of the material in the context of the era and has consequently based work on secondary sources and lazy stereotypes. As for the reference to Keane and Coldplay; two of the most successful and widely liked acts of the last decade- most would considered that being an influence on such acts is high praise indeed.

So really what could one expect from Ultravox-other than an album that sounded like Ultravox? I mean really? A load of drum and bass, with Midge singing yo yo yo? The reference to the “five stars” given to the Dexy’s album is interesting; others may comment that in their heyday Dexy’s always seemed to be a bit bogus, like the middle class kids who wore Donkey Jackets during the miners’ strike selling Socialist Worker then going home to their nice four bedroom detached houses. With such a view, considering anything new by them would have been long since tainted by the earlier view. It would seem that this is what has happened here.


So why are Ultravox fans so pleased with Brilliant? The answer lies 26 years ago, with an album called U-Vox; what the fans refer to as “the dreaded pink thing”. Even the band themselves consider it to be a somewhat dismal affair. So to the fans, to have an album in their hands which presents a far more positive last hurrah that the previous outing means that their last memory will be far better than before.

Mr Jack is but one person, and the review is his opinion and his alone. He’s perfectly entitled to it and perfectly entitled to go to print with it without enduring some of the disappointingly crude comments shown here. That said, the review as presented is a flawed piece of work, it presents opinion as fact, and fails to reach any reasoned conclusion. Even with limited space a reasonably talented writer could manage that.

27. Gustaf4 Oct 2012, 4:17pm Report

Being a hardcore fan of Ultravox, Visage and Gary Numan I must add a few notes to this inflamed debate.
IMO the Brilliant album does not meet up to the glory days of the first four albums. This does not mean it is a bad album. Not at all. It really has some very good tracks. On the other hand it has some less fortunate tracks as well.
A discernable path in previous Ultravox (except the dread red one) is that they follow a mystical youthful experimental track, both in lyrics and in musical composition. As did early Visage. Hard beats, screaming synthesizers, classical piano, waking guitar riffs, viola and distinct and sometimes dreaming voices and peculiar lyrics.
Altogether a very particular blend leading to a very particular style. There is no doubt that Ultravox and Visage broke inte the future of club music 30 years ago. Rusty Egan was a DJ to envy even today. Being a DJ, having his own posh nightclub and also his own world renowned band Visage, where also Ure and Currie where members, speaks for itself. These boys invented synthesized club music with analog instruments.
The album Brilliant is not as mystical as the golden four and thereby it deviates from the original UV-plan. It has however a very good composition and is made by musicians all the way. It is also Ultravox a lot more than the dread red. Cann is back behind the drum set and he shines clearest. The greatest difference is that these guys are not as ice-cool and arrogant as they used to be. They have grown and matured and so has their musical interpretation.
The album is definitely worth the buck. They know how to produce solidly. But the spirit of Ultravox may need a rejuvenation - a youthful spirit with loads of anxiety, frustration, selfishness and yearning.
A clearer accent on youth would be appreciated in the next album to come.

28. Wondermutt15 Nov 2012, 2:00am Report

As with many Ultravox fans, I fanfare the likes of "Passing strangers" and "New europeans" as being the pulse of life , living in London at the time ,(Early 1980's) the envelope of Visage and Gary numan...OMD.....etc... giving us us the edge of "New youth" and underground relevance... I have no problem with what we would call the difinitive "Ultravox" line up coming up with an "Ultravox" album.....in 2012 !!! Achievement !!!.... Reviewer.... what did you expect?? ... No-one cries down the stones, or cliff, or journey, or even madness for doing ....er!! their job..... !!! People now can keep in touch long into their later life with their genre of music thanks to 'tinternet, and we watch, and wait ..... we do not fade away and give way to the front wave of music...... in fact we relish and adore the likes of Adele and the Stereophonics, and tinie tempah and allsorts..... why can't we have a bit of our romantics too...?? Ultravox are history and lifetimes to me .....and I love 'em !!! Boo to you for trying to sound contemporary.... but that's not really relevant for reviewing an Ultravox album now is it !!!.....Eddie age 51..... and with a music collection from "Hendrix" to ...........................

29. Joe 9018 Dec 2012, 11:56pm Report

I think Ultravox (Midge Ure era) were/are fantastic!!! I've got all the albums on vinyl and CD and would never part with them - still got the poster from inside the Rage In Eden Album :)

I KNOW YOU FANS AINT GONNA LIKE THIS BUT, I JUST LISTENED TO BRILLIANT AND I THINK IT DEFINATELY LIVES UP TO (PART OF) THE REVIEWERS COMMENT WHICH SAYS :-

"a desolately uninteresting lunar landscape"

I JUST DONT THINK THERE'S ANY GOOD OR MEMORABLE SONGS ON THIS ALBUM!!!

I DO NOT AGREE WITH HIS COMMENTS SLAGGING ULTRAVOX OFF!!!!

Ultravox are still one of my favourite bands from the early 80's as are Visage (first 2 albums). I hate the state of todays popular current music scene - to me its an insult to whats gone before it. I love everything from metal, glam, funk, rock, punk, goth, dance, disco and classical. I have a really wide taste in music so I am not limited to a single genre. Just cant seem to get to grips with this latest offering from Ultravox though - its just boring :( Sorry guys, this album just doesnt do anything for me at the moment.

To be absolutely fair, I'm gonna give it a few more listens and see if any tracks are growers and if they are I'll come back and say so!

30. William MacLeod6 May 2013, 2:24pm Report

What have we learned from this review?
1. Malcom jack doesn't like Ultravox
2. Malcom likes the "sound of his own voice"
3. Malcom thinks he's being "pithy" and intelligent"
4. "The List" and Malcom's reviews should be avoided.
5. Whomever paid Malcom to write 2 whole paragraphs that don't actually say anything, other than "Malcom doesn't like Ultravox" should be fired..

Seriously Malcom? If you're going to pan an album, at least state some specifics, as opposed to "I didn't like them 26 years ago, so I don't like them now"
If that's the case, then Bob Dylan, The Dreadful garbage (I mean Greatful Dead), The Rolling Stones, etc.. shouldn't be putting out anything ever again...
You give no real reason to avoid this album, other than the belief that Malcom is the center of the universe...

I will now avoid
the List" like the plague..

31. Jessica Jansen16 Sep 2014, 10:20pm Report

What a shitload full of bullshit. Did you get paid for this, or did you pay for this to get published?

32. Neil B23 Jan 2015, 10:41pm Report

This review doesn't really deserve to be commented on, although I will say that it encapsulates for me why I rarely have time for /any/ reviews, let alone monumentally bad ones.

Music, film and art are inherently subjective. Especially if they're any good. Anything that doesn't get mixed and strongly polarized reviews isn't likely to be doing anything very interesting. The best a good review can do is offer some insight independent of subjective taste. This one does exactly the opposite of course, and it's pretty funny and revealing that the reviewer felt the need to reply at such great length to the negative feedback. :-) If he'd had any confidence in what he wrote he'd just have let it stand. However I suspect that he's very aware of what a sloppy and destructive piece of writing it was. A learning experience, let's hope.

I haven't heard the album yet. I didn't know it existed until I heard one of the tracks on the radio the other day. A surreal experience (and I don't use that adjective lightly), because I didn't immediately recognise it as being by Ultravox (how could an oddly slightly different and non-contemporary sounding new track on the radio be by a long-defunct 80s band I used to like 30 years ago as a painfully shy and nerdy teenager?). It was all the weirder because, by a wonderfully choreographed coincidence, at the time I happened to be driving through the area where I used to live as a teenager... Of course it all fitted when the name of the band was announced (without it being any less surreal).

On the strength of what I've heard and read I suspect I will like the album, and this may very well be as much to do with my personal associations with the band, the era and my own adolescence as with anything else. In a wider sense that's true for all music though.

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