Ultravox

Systems of Romance

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With 1978's Systems of Romance, Ultravox left punk behind and single-handedly blueprinted the entire new romantic movement to come -- well, with a little help from co-producers Conny Planck and Dave Hutchins. Gone was the brittleness of Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, replaced by a rich lushness of sound that would define the forthcoming genre. Shifting from the political to the interpersonal, gone too was the overwhelming sense of looming Armageddon, replaced by more generalized (and mundane) feelings of alienation, "Dislocation," and unease. "Quiet Men" is a Lowry painting brought to life, the chorus of "Slow Motion" a swaying field painted by Renoir, "I Can't Stay Long" a Degas ballet, while "Maximum Acceleration" is as lavish in sound as Botticelli was with paint. The rhythms still remained dangerous, however, and Robin Simon's guitar gives the set a tough edge, but it's the swirling, swooping synths and keyboards that predominate within.

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