Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Crush

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The lightweight synthesizer pop of Crush represents a nearly complete reinvention of the band's original ideals, trading in the influence of Ultravox and Kraftwerk for the more contemporary fare offered up by The The, Howard Jones, et al. From a commercial standpoint, the move paid off, breaking the band into the U.S. Top 40 on the strength of singles like "So in Love" and "Secret." Anyone looking for signs of OMD's original identity, however, will have to settle for "Joan of Arc" rewritten as a pop song ("La Femme Accident," arguably the album's most pleasant moment), some interesting patterns on "Crush" and "The Lights Are Going Out" that recall Dazzle Ships, the relatively edgy "88 Seconds in Greensboro," and shades of Brian Eno's "Third Uncle" on "The Native Daughters of the Golden West." Switching horses in midstream does allow OMD to cultivate a new audience without losing their U.K. listeners, but it also invites the suggestion that Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were stylemongers rather than electronic visionaries. Producer Stephen Hague keeps the arrangements clean and simple, so much so that it's difficult to hear what (if anything) Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes contribute to the final product. Unfortunately, given the lyrics on this album, OMD picked the wrong time to be intelligible (and including a lyric sheet is just begging for trouble). The words to "Crush," "Bloc Bloc Bloc," "Hold On," and "Secret" reveal that melodies really are their strong suit. Crush offers very little of substance; maybe that's always been the case with OMD, and earlier albums simply masked it better by taking the road less traveled.

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