OMD - History of Modern
Record Label: Bright Antenna/ILG
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2010
Hey synth fiends, want a refresher course in how to probably administer synths and keys in songcraft? Look no further than OMD's latest album History of Modern. Wait, what, OMD is back? Yep. Sure enough they are. And History of Modern is a most triumphant return.
The chest-bumping and androgynous opener "New Babies: New Toys" is a fitting and frenzied introduction, while the George Michael-tinged "If You Want It," is arguably one of the year's best pop songs. The disc takes its first dip on "History of Modern (Part I)" but calling it a throwaway is probably a disservice. It's not exactly a home run either, but that's mind over matter really.
Its successor, "History of Modern (Part II)" is a sturdy rebound, replete with swirling harmonics and ebullient swells and crests. Utilizing a wordless chorus, the song instead relies on the laurels of the synths' undulating movements. Triumphant, resounding and full of conviction, it's as infectious and as memorable as anything on the disc's first half.
Though not nearly as potent (really, what else can be?) "Sometimes" is another melodious step forward from a band that seems to have no problem adjusting to a 14-year layoff. Employing the soulful voice of Jennifer Johns "Sometimes," chases down urban chic with an effortless swagger, further cementing their status as new wave icons. Of the two remaining songs on the disc's first half, "RFWK," an homage to childhood heroes Kraftwerk is the most memorable.
On the disc's second half, the spoken word "Pulse," grunts and groans through muffled verses before exploding into a shimmering chorus. Easily the standout of the second half, it finds company with scintillating lead single "Sister Marie Says," and celestial cut "Bondage of Fate." The latter uses a sample from Hannah Peel's Organ Song," and wears it exquisitely. Utilizing samples can often come across as trite, pastiche and self-indulgent, but never once does "Bondage of Fate," meet that fate.
Truth be told, finding a clunker on the second half is a tall order and that simple fact is what makes History of Modern so rewarding. Thirty years after they first started out, the British quartet still have the same penchant for wanton disregard, commercial cache and arresting arrangements. And it's not something that should be glossed over.
So while Lady Gaga continues humming and hawing over anything under the sun and boisterous brats 3Oh3! do God knows what, this reviewer will be quietly bumping to this near-perfect orchestration. If only all of us could be this good 30 years removed from our prime. If only.