U L T R A V O X
the brand new studio album
released: May 28th on EMI
go behind the scenes of Brilliant...
As previously announced, the classic line-up of seminal electro pioneers Ultravox – Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann – are releasing their first album of new material in almost three decades on May 28th via EMI. Entitled 'Brilliant’, which is also the lead single, it precedes a 27-date UK and European tour, with full details to be announced soon.
"'Brilliant’", explains frontman Midge Ure, "is a bitter sweet comment on pop culture. "You, the brilliant thing you are, outshine the brightest star, so distant and too far". It’s about the other side of fame and success, a song about the bright young things that ignore the consequences of fame with the ensuing burn out rate… In a way it should read 'Brilliant’ with a question mark."
Dramatic, passionate and truly epic in scale and sound, 'Brilliant’ is not only a prescient reminder of how great this reborn band are, but an exciting and vital addition to an extraordinary catalogue of music which today sounds more current and influential than ever.
"You only have to look back to the '80s and Ultravox were an oddity even then" remembers Midge. "When everyone else was doing poppy stuff on synthesizers, we did 'Vienna’. We didn’t fit into any music camp, we straddled them. At times we were an out-and-out rock band if you came to see us live, but we were making that noise with synthesizers as well as guitars. I mean 'Vienna’ still sounds unique thirty years on and if you make things that sound unique it becomes timeless."
Emerging from the new wave and electro scenes of the late 70’s, Ultravox fashioned a form of electronic rock music that delivered massive hits through the 1980’s such as 'Hymn’, 'Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, 'The Voice’, 'Reap The Wild Wind’, 'Love’s Great Adventure’, 'We Came To Dance’ and of course 'Vienna’. With four top ten studio albums and a triple platinum greatest hits collection under their belts, the classic line-up played their last concert together in 1985 at Live Aid.
Then in 2009 the four members reunited for the sold-out Return To Eden tour and from that grew the seeds for this new album. Recorded in Canada, Los Angeles and the UK, 'Brilliant’ sees Ultravox expanding their classic sonic template and reminding us of their strength as songwriters of the highest calibre.
"We’ve got a very, very weird and strange outlook on music and this album has Ultravox’s DNA running right through it," says Midge. "And that DNA has a lot to do with Billy’s classical music upbringing, the way he structures chords and melodies, the way certain notes touch and provoke emotions and my pop sensibilities and melodies. Once you throw those things together it’s instantly Ultravox.
"I think there’s a direct link between what we did thirty years ago and 'Brilliant’ because it is us. If we’d tried to sit there and emulate what we did thirty years ago it wouldn’t have worked but luckily for us, if we sit down and do something together it sounds like Ultravox, we don’t try and make it sound like that, it’s just what comes out."
And the result is astonishing. From the opening, swelling barrage of 'Live Again’ with its instantly identifiable piano motifs through the epic rock of 'Flow’ to first single and title track 'Brilliant’, there is no mistaking the sound of Ultravox; the huge choruses, the impassioned vocals, the driving rhythms and pulsing electronics.
'Rise’ is a modern computer-pop classic while the likes of 'Remembering’, 'This One’ and 'The Change’ evoke the cinematic atmospheres Ultravox do so well. Coupled with the widescreen drama of 'Let It Lie’, the chiming exoticism of 'Satellite’, the sinister tension of 'Hello’ and the chilling heartbreak of 'Fall’, Ultravox have crafted an album that may well be ranked as their finest work to date.
"There are so many equally strong emotions to write about as well as love," Midge says of the inspirations behind the album, "which I hope we have used to good effect. My favourite song on the album is the final one, 'Contact’. It reflects how technology has taken over our lives and how we only communicate through that technology. That’s modern contact."
It’s been a long time coming but with 'Brilliant’ there’s no denying Ultravox have found their voice again.
To watch a short clip of the band in the studio during the making of 'Brilliant’ click here