Album Reviews

OMD – Bauhaus Staircase

(100%) UK release date: 27 October 2023

Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys’ first long-player in five years stands with the cream of their electronically harvested crop

OMD - Bauhaus Staircase Is this the last OMD album? Bauhaus Staircase is Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys’ 14th long player, their first release in five years, but they have hardly been idle in that time. The pandemic returned principal songwriter Andy McCluskey to the approach he had as a teenager, where he would go up to his room and write songs to alleviate the boredom while his mum watched TV. This new set of songs finds him a 64-year-old father, but the approach remains the same, the music just as fresh.

The big difference now is in the source material. Where OMD once anticipated the future with a fresh-faced eagerness, McCluskey’s lyrics are now underlined with dread and regret, a deep sense of shame that this is the planet we are passing on to the next generation. The no holds barred lyrics of Kleptocracy rail against world leaders, with the gloves well and truly off. They stay off for Anthropocene, whose telling lyrics, “a dirty mark in history, left for all to see”, are there to make the listener wince at the plight in which our planet finds itself. As OMD look back from the future, a solo voice at the end of the song tells a stark story: “Global human population is… zero.”

And yet this is a largely positive album, presented in a sleek musical livery to match the cover artwork. OMD still love their instruments – many of them are new! – while retaining that rare talent of turning basic musical source material into something genuinely exciting, like their biggest influences Kraftwerk. The title track sets the scene perfectly, a blend of mathematical precision and no-holds barred romance paying tribute to pre-Nazi German art. “I want to kiss on a Bauhaus staircase,” declares McCluskey, “I want to love with an open heart.”

That open heart yields songs like Aphrodite’s Favourite Child, a song written over a decade ago for McCluskey’s then partner. “Will you hold me closely, like a mother holds her only dying child?” he sings. The voice still sounds great, his crooning baritone capable of taking flight on songs such as Slow Train, a number right from the band’s top shelf. Though slightly cheesy, its rhythm rocks in a similar way to Sailing On The Seven Seas, containing everything about OMD that their fans know and love. Veruschka, too, is a fine piece of work, its music pulled from the outer recesses of Humphreys’ hard drive. Its softly intoned opening blossoms into film noir references before an elegant chorus tugs at the heartstrings.

OMD, then, remain in fine form, operating at their best when taking the pressure off themselves. Don’t be surprised if they come back with another album, for they still have plenty to give, plenty to say – and Bauhaus Staircase stands up there with the cream of their electronically harvested crop.

buy OMD MP3s or CDs
Spotify OMD on Spotify

More on OMD
OMD – Bauhaus Staircase
OMD @ Brighton Centre, Brighton
OMD’s Andy McCluskey: “There are lies all over modern international politics” – Interview
OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury
OMD – English Electric