The absolute arrogance of this album is undeniable but not misplaced. From the big idea of the title via the austere and iconic packaging courtesy of Peter Saville, to the conceptual religious joke at the heart of it, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys must have known what an astonishing record they were producing.
McCluskey, a lapsed Scouse Catholic, had become obsessed with a 15th Century French martyr, leading to the release of two singles from the album, both called Joan Of Arc; a conceptual masterstroke. The first highlights the utterly berserk weirdness of OMD. It’s at once highly experimental (an electronica piece in waltz time about a Saint who died half a millennium before) but soulful and almost sentimental in its warmth, something that many early practitioners of synthesizer music lacked. (A panicky Virgin later added ‘(Maid Of Orleans)’ to the title of the second release.)
Also here is the propulsive and Numanesque The New Stone Age and the ambient wash of Sealand, another love song, this time to the micronation off-shore facility in international waters off the coast of Suffolk. The use of radio ‘samples’ and loops on Georgia also points the way forward to OMD’s most ambitious and experimental album, 1983’s Dazzle Ships.