by David Chiu
Is this 1981 or 1982 all over again? First Duran Duran released All You Need Is Now and it has been hailed as a return to form. Now another British synth pop group from the ‘80s, Ultravox, has reclaimed some of that old New Romantic glory with their latest new record — the first one in nearly 30 years featuring the classic lineup of Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Warren Cann and Chris Cross. With its atmospheric electronic sound and sense of art rock grandeur, Brilliant vividly recalls the group’s 1981 opus Vienna. Right from the outset, the driving opening track Live sets the tone for the record that never flags throughout — a blend of drama, passion and mood on standout tracks like “Rise”; the very Gothic subdued “Remembering” and “One”; and the soaring “Lie.” The band’s playing, highlighted by Ure’s distinctive vocals, still sound great and dynamic after all these years. Titling the record Brilliant isn’t some premature boast or act of chutzpah—it accurately reflects how vital Ultravox sounds in 2012.