It has been awhile since the last album by Messrs Ure, Cann, Currie and Cross collectively as Ultravox. It is also true I am a bigger fan of the band’s first three albums under guiding light of John Foxx. I also witnessed the reformation tour back in 2009 where I was actually less than impressed with their performance to be honest. So I approached this review with some trepidation to say the least but I always have an open mind to new sounds.Well the new album kicked off with ‘Live‘ the proceedings reminiscent of something from their Quartet album. Heavier with a beefy chorus which is coolly controlled by Warren Cann’s drums. This then flows into ‘Flow‘ with the lyrics “sometimes I’ll try and sometimes I fall“, sums it up as they do try and sometimes they did land safely. I did particularly like the sparse keyboards during the instrumental break. Next we have the title and lead single ‘Brilliant‘ and that is exactly how to describe it, simply a classic. Vintage Midge Ure vocals with a cascading chorus line that will please their patiently waiting fans.
‘Change‘ is a far more electronic affair, actually closer to the current works of their former maestro Mr. Foxx’s current output. Add to it the synthesisers by Billy Currie which do nod to Kraftwerk’s more robotic output on Man Machine album. The dance beat of ‘Rise‘ also reminds me of their follow-up album Computer World, with Midge’s vocals being stretched to the limit. ‘Remembering‘ is the first ballad on the disc but unlike previous classics this really fails to get to started and this is no way near being in the same class as their swan song ‘Vienna‘.Things look up on ‘Hello‘ when they bring back the power sounds you associate with them. They use all their trademarks with the rasping piano and driving rhythm section where Chris Cross‘ bass compliments Midge’s guitar solos. The second ballad comes in the shape of ‘One‘ and this one is far better. Minimal in sound and softly sung which then builds as it progresses along. Next yet another ballad ‘Fall‘ and they do exactly that with this. “and I can never give in“, maybe they should stick to their rocky side more but you can not fault them for trying.
As if they have heard my last request we get ‘Lie‘ which probably is their hardest side displayed in this collection of songs. Very radio friendly, a virtuoso guitar middle and a sing-along chorus. The frenetic ‘Satellite‘ rushes up behind to grab your senses. Billy Currie’s strings come into play here which fits the lyrics perfectly “do do do what you know“. It all draws to a close with ‘Contact‘ which is yet another ballad and is all to mushy for me with its only saving grace the excellent violin intervention by Billy near the end.
I was sceptical when I saw every song title was just one word in length. Considering my last encounter with them this is an improvement. Brilliant in places but very dull in others. Less ballads please next time and keep to their bread and butter of delivering a bouncy tune. Saying that it is good to see them back together and lets hope this gives the seeds for further new songs for another album. 6/10 Hopeful next time.