After a six-year hiatus since 2017's The Punishment Of Luxury, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) return with the breathtaking Bauhaus Staircase.
OMD have long held a unique place in the annals of music history. As one of the earliest, most enduring, and commercially successful synth-pop groups, they've carved a path that balances between the roots of electronic music while simultaneously challenging the conventions of the traditional three-minute pop song.
The backdrop to the new album's creation was the COVID-19 lockdown that gripped the world in 2020. OMD's frontman, Andy McCluskey, harnessed the creative power that boredom can unleash during challenging times. He became the architect of the majority of Bauhaus Staircase by using the solitude to his advantage, going back to a catalog of song title concepts he had gathered to create songs from them. Some of those intriguing titles, now flushed out into songs, include the title track "Bauhaus Staircase," "Kleptocracy," and "Anthropocene," which was also the original title for the album. Some of the tracks are also built from older pieces that the band had previously struggled to complete. The remote working conditions imposed by the pandemic required the duo to collaborate via the internet, and the process was further delayed by bandmate Paul Humphreys, who had recently become a father.
Bauhaus Staircase finds its thematic inspirations rooted in the global political landscape of the late 2010s and early 2020s. In fact, the duo describes it as their most explicitly political record to date. "Kleptocracy" takes pointed aim at right-wing leaders, while the title track pays homage to the Bauhaus art movement. Beyond the realm of politics, the album takes on ecological themes with "Anthropocene" and "Evolution Of Species," while personal connections take center stage on "G.E.M." and "Aphrodite's Favorite Child," dedicated to figures in McCluskey's life. "Slow Train," bearing a tinge of a Goldfrapp influence, features stream-of-consciousness lyrics reminiscent of their 1991 hit, "Sailing On The Seven Seas." The album title, Bauhaus Staircase, was inspired by the 1932 Oskar Schlemmer painting of the same name.
OMD are an English electronic band that first came together in Wirral, Merseyside, in 1978. Pioneers of the electronic music landscape, OMD masterfully melded experimental and minimalist elements with pop sensibilities, positioning themselves as key influencers during the emergence of synth-pop. The duo of McCluskey and Humphreys blazed a trail as the trendsetting "synth duo" in 1980s Britain, playing a substantial role in the MTV-propelled Second British Invasion in the United States. Their career boasts 13 Top 20 entries on the UK albums chart and worldwide sales of 40 million records. Their discography includes 18 Top 40 appearances on the UK singles chart, not to mention four Top 40 entries on the US Billboard Hot 100. OMD's legacy extends to their status as one of the most influential synth-pop acts in history, with their innovative sound inspiring countless artists spanning various genres and artistic disciplines.