I was 14 when I first heard OMD while riding in Dr. Squids brother's RX7 and listening to Junk Culture. I remember thinking how cool they sounded and asked what the group's name was. "Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark" I was told. I then recall thinking "fuck, how the hell am I going to remember that shit"? Lucky for me It could be shortened.
18 years later and a healthy obsession for everything synth we come to History of Modern, OMD's first album since their 1996 Universal.
I had read about the new album about a couple years ago and have been anxiously waiting to hear it since then.
Well that day is finally here and I can honestly say I haven't felt this giddy in a long time (shut up Dr. Squid, I do not always say that).
History of Modern is an incredibly consistent album that just soars from start to finish. Even the weaker tracks don't disappoint.
The thing that amazes me the most is the quality of songs. Each seems like a labor of love with rich synth melodies that feel like instant classics. The album does have a strong retro vibe but it gets away with it without feeling dated.
It's hard to say which song I'm enjoying the most at the moment. It seems to change each day which I think really says something.
One day it's the epic History of Modern prt. 1 with it's huge five note chorus and cleverly written lyrics about the end of the universe. It's strange how this song just invokes excitement and energy while couched in a very depressing theme.
Then there's the 8 minute and 20 second The Right Side? which takes you on a hypnotic synth-candy journey. I get all nerdy with cold chills every time the beat kicks in for the fist time. It's like the safety bar dropping on my lap to begin the ride (I think I just gave Mr. Black a very funny image). That's just the best way i can describe it, its a total fucking ride that finds me smiling the whole way. "Let me take you with me to a city by the sea" Andy says, and like a little lemming I obey happy to be aboard the bright orange OMD rollercoaster. You might think 8:20 is a bit overdoing it but I find myself wanting more by the time it ends.
There's also a few very un-OMD surprises like Sometimes and the very dirty Pulse (Mrs. Whites favorite) with its sexually charged lyrics; "I'll give you clear instructions, how to use the functions, fucking listen cos it's what you came for".
Then you have your creepers like RFWK, front man Andy McCluskys love letter to his heroes of Kraftwerk. I wasn't sure I'd like this one from the 30 second clip that was released a while back but like I said it's a creeper and it's doing a good job. Another wonderful synth hook that screams classic OMD. I think this song is one of many on History of Modern that sees Andy McCluskys best vocal performance.
So are there any songs on the album I don't like? To be honest, not really. It does have weaker moments but as I said earlier they are by no means bad songs. And I'm pleased to find I'm not skipping ahead to hear the next track.
I guess time will tell how I really feel but for now I'm as giddy as a 15 year old girl waiting in line to see Justin Bieber.
History of Modern is a wonderful addition to the OMD catalog that I think i'll be ejoying another 18 years from now.
For more information about OMD, visit their official website.