For anyone who caught Ultravox on the last tour or even Midge Ure’s much coveted solo gigs in the last few years, it really won’t come as any surprise to find that the first studio album by the band in 18 years is nothing short of sensational.
For those that only know of the band from the endless repetitive playing of their biggest hit Vienna, Brilliant will come as a bit of a surprise. The sweeping vocal range of lead singer Midge Ure is still there, in fact given the time scale between the new album and the song that was kept off the top spot, it seems to have improved, if such a thing were indeed possible and now has the urgency and maturity to reflect on the past with Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann and move on and really make up for lost time and lost pleasure.
It will also come as no surprise that there will be the usual reviewer or critic with an axe to grind over any group of musicians that have been away for so long. To that the easy question, the sensible question has to be, what are they meant to do? If there is a demand for the music, as their surely is in this case then why not. In the end the music is good enough to listen to and it’s better than a creative mind being stifled.
For Ultravox though to bring out this album, there is a flip side. In the exceptional songs that are strewn throughout Brilliant, it will create a demand for a further album. Will this be a step too far for them and will the core audience be satisfied with just the further piece of recording by the classic line up?
The music itself is deeply moving; haunted unfulfilled memories litter each track and give a distinctive show stopping performance that to be fair is professionally expected but none the less so very welcome. With tracks as well-crafted as Change, Remembering and Hello tucked away on the CD, each track that surrounds them is enhanced and wallows with intent to be listened to.
Brilliant won’t appeal to those who believe that certain musicians who get past a certain age and who leave the past behind somewhere in the dim recesses of time and come back stronger and happier. However it will appeal to those with music appreciation running through their veins and there is nothing better than an album than lives up to its title…Brilliant.
Ian D. Hall