March 28, 2014 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – English Electric (Album review)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) are a British band formed in 1978 whose music style can be considered New Wave, Synthpop and Experimental. The band gained a following in the UK with the 1981 release of their third album Architecture & Morality becoming a commercial success, selling over 4 million copies. It is considered one of the top electronic albums of the 1980’s.
The next four albums released with founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were Dazzle Ships (1983), Junk Culture (1984), Crush (1985) and The Pacific Age (1986). These albums experimented with different writing styles but ultimately could not match the commercial success of Architecture & Morality. 1986 also marked OMD’s first major US hit single “If You Leave” written for the Pretty in Pink soundtrack.
By 1989 founding member Paul Humphreys along with Martin Cooper and Malcom Holmes departed the band to form The Listening Pool. Andy McCluskey however carried on with OMD until dissolving the band in 1996. The band reformed in 2006, releasing History of Modern in 2010 to commercial success in Germany and the UK.
In March 2013 OMD released their second album since reforming entitled English Electric. This album reaches back to capture the classic OMD sound from the early 80’s while sprinkling in a few new tricks. “Metroland”, the second track on the album emulates the mix of new and old sounds perfectly. Contemporary beats wrapped in vintage vocals and synth sounds help this track to be the prefect single for the album.
On “The Future Will Be Silent” and “Atomic Ranch” the band shows off it’s experimental side. Using vocal effects, synth sounds and beats currently found in Dubstep music while still keeping hints of the OMD style in the background, these tracks stand out as some of the more interesting on the album.
“Helen of Troy”, “Stay with Me” and “Dresden” represent the most vintage sounding tracks on the record. In some ways sounding so classic they could have easily fit into some of the bands early albums. The classic sound feels almost refreshing, like visiting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Overall English Electric works on many levels. It should please longtime fans of the band as well as bring in a few newer fans of the 80’s New Wave genre. Mixing new and old styles makes this album sound classic but not tired. The record does however stay safely within it’s comfort zone and it would be exciting to see this talented act perhaps branch out on a future releases. That said, it should be a welcome addition to any OMD fan’s collection. CrypticRock gives English Electric 4 out of 5 Stars.