As the title suggests, Ultravox were in a gray mood as they launched into their seventh studio LP, their previous existential angst now pooling around personal anguish. The album's title track was a study in languorous melancholy, where the emotional pain lingered on and on. And why would it ever dissipate, when romance is forever doomed, as "When the Time Comes" exquisitely illustrated? Even "One Small Day," the most musically celebratory song on the set, battles depression but dismally loses the war. No wonder Ultravox were so keen to escape far into the past, with "Man of Two Worlds" taking them back to the gloriously romanticized days of the Celts. The modern world, in contrast, was filled with terrors, both emotional ("A Friend I Call Desire") and global. There was the omnipresent yellow peril to fear; but if "White China" warned of the dangers of creeping communism, the nation sworn to protect its citizens from a Stalinistic embrace proves just as nefarious on "Heart of the Country." Each side is as bad as the other, together threatening the globe with annihilation, with the mini-epic "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" poignantly pointing out the richness of life the world's leaders hold so carelessly in their hands. This was to be Ultravox's final album, at least in this form, and in many ways, the set was the band's perfect epitaph, as lavish musically as it was desolate thematically.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson