Top positive review
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Ultravox Are Back and Its Like They Never Went Away
on June 14, 2012
OK, let's start by laying some groundwork. I am a huge Ultravox fan, Systems of Romance is still my favourite album of all time after more than 30 years (bought it in 1979). When Foxx left I remained a fan of both. The Midge Ure fronted Ultravox made some great songs but I found their albums very patchy. Still, they remain an enduring favourite.
Brilliant is a lot better than I thought it would be. Songs like Lie and Satellite are as good as their best work, with all the classic Ultravox elements present and correct, which makes it mystifying that they should be hidden away near the end of the album. Mind you, the first three songs are also good, with Midge using a sort of whispery vocal on the title track to give it a different slant. The synth sounds are also a good mix of the familiar and more up to date sounds that make this a distinctly more modern Ultravox. You know instantly who it is but songs like Rise make it more than just a rehash of past glories. Overall, I think this is a better album than Lament, or anything that followed it, and is right up there with Rage in Eden and Vienna (Quartet is my favourite Ure-era album). With a harder edge it could have been as good as either but songs like Change and Remembering are pretty soft and the production is a little too slick for my taste. It helps to turn it up but the guitars are mixed way too far back.
I've read a lot of negative reviews of this album but I find them all ridiculous because what they are criticising is what Ultravox do, what they have always done. Its almost as if they expected Ultravox to make a U2 or a Pet Shop Boys album. They haven't, what they have made is a very solid Ultravox album and I really don't know how they can be criticised for that. It is exactly what anyone should expect from them and if you liked any of their hit singles or albums from the first half of the 1980s, you are almost certain to enjoy this welcome return.