Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

History of Modern

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Nov 01, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Modern music is just as guilty of setting the stage for a mega ’80s comeback as are the artists who defined the era. The synthesizer has pushed its way back to the top of the mix and so it makes—musical—sense for the instrument’s masters to give things another go. For years now the creative forces behind Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, lead singer Andy McCluskey and keyboard guru Paul Humphreys, have been steadily wetting fan appetites for an OMD reunion. It’s finally been delivered here in the form of History of Modern, which is the first album to feature the original lineup since 1986’s The Pacific Age and the first album under the OMD moniker since 1996.

The results are mixed. The first four tracks are the most rewarding. “New Babies: New Toys” sounds so OMD that it borders on parody, while the album’s first single “If You Want It,” even if it insists upon itself as a hit single, is totally irresistible. HOM’s not one but two title tracks (Parts I and II) are the best OMD songs of the last 29 years. “(Part I)” pulses with synthy goodness while McCluskey’s nasally vocal sounds perfectly intact as if he hasn’t aged at all. About half way comes the white washed R&B of “Sometimes,” which is such a glaring blunder that it risks ruining HOM altogether with its awkward ’90s record scratches and Jennifer John guest vocals who, while she isn’t as irritating as Macy Gray, succeeds in destroying the track in typical Macy Gray fashion. The best numbers are the fast-paced ones, such as the glistening second single “Sister Mary Says” and the Pet Shop Boys-tinged “The Future, The Past And Forever.”

History of Modern offers plenty to justify a purchase and if you had realistic expectations from the start for this OMD reunion, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. (www.omd.uk.com)

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