"A Decade of Thoughts" (Album, 1998)
Interesting that this isn't entitled "A Decade of Ideas". If it were then it would be disingenuous, for although there is something horribly infectious about some of Elegant Machinery's synthpop songs, originality was never their strong point as this retrospective proves. Of the three albums released by EM (is such a limited album repertoire even worthy of a retrospective? I ask myself), I only have 1993's Shattered Grounds and must admit to finding it quite addictive - even today.
Depeche Mode wannabes undoubtedly, but singer Robert Enforsen is a talent for sure. Sadly, the songwriting largely isn't worthy of such a voice. Some tracks are simply unsubtle rip-offs of Depeche Mode songs and the remainder the limp work of early 80s synthpop obsessives. To their credit, instead of merely compiling tracks from their back catalogue (however limited) and plonking them onto a new album, Elegant Machinery have gone to the trouble of remixing all of them especially for this release. A nice idea - but badly executed. The tracks I am familiar with (taken from Shattered Grounds) are all significantly inferior to the originals. The mixes sucking out what little distinctive character the source material ever had. What is left are empty husks that simply fail to inspire - somewhat like the band themselves who decided to call it a day after releasing this swansong. 4/10
Official Elegant Machinery website: http://www.analogue.org