Release Date: Sep 28, 2010
Record label: Blue Noise
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Dance, Synth Pop
Over the past few years, OMD have really set the table for a smashing comeback. First came the well-received reunion shows, featuring the band’s “classic” four-piece lineup performing their classic material. Then came the concerts with symphony orchestras and an art installation with famed graphic designer Peter Saville. Throughout all this, the band realized their music, particularly their more experimental early ‘80s material, had undergone a critical revival.
A 2005 appearance on a German television program, followed by a tour -- throughout which the original four members performed 1981's Architecture & Morality in its entirety -- culminated in the first OMD album since 1996 (and this particular quartet’s first since 1986). History of Modern, for the most part, sounds like OMD. There are two alarming exceptions: “Sometimes” incorporates turntable scratching and guest vocalist Jennifer John, who interjects with lines from “Motherless Child,” while “Pulse” is oversexed and awkward neo-electro sleaze, full of bedroom whispers, moans, and yearning yelps.
Ever since their inception in 1978, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark have had an on-off relationship with pop music. OMD’s biggest achievement was how their most successful (and best) album Architecture and Morality combined their esoteric lyrical concerns and electronic experimentation with genuine chart success; few bands have scored consecutive top five hits with love songs about Joan of Arc (being ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Maid of Orleans’), never mind the fact that the latter single started with almost a minute of ambient synth washes interrupted with sudden atonal drones. So where does History of Modern, OMD’s first album in 14 years, stand in relation to their body of work? I hate to say it, but if you plotted a graph representing the downward trajectory of OMD’s output since Dazzleships then History of Modern would represent no deviation from nose dive which started in the late Eighties.
A few highs aside, this is a poor return from the 80s hit-makers. John Doran 2010 In the late 70s OMD were early synthesizer adopters and pop musicians with a serious avant-garde bent, who were looking to Kraftwerk and Harmonia for inspiration before most people had even got to grips with punk. This combined with a warm-hearted, Liverpudlian melodic sensibility saw them turn out four great albums, two of which (Architecture & Morality and Dazzle Ships) were touched with genius.