There's been a recent resurge of electronic music in the past few years which is definitely not a bad thing, especially for someone like myself who, at a very young age, got turned onto the best of the best in the 80's...OMD. They churned out an impressive number of hits both in their original lineup and also when Andy McCluskey went solo with the name. But alas, music changes and what was once "in", got pushed out for a new phase and sadly, by the mid 90's, OMD disappeared....until now.
14 years is a long time and a lot can happen but founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys have found a way to bridge the gap of time and produce what could arguably be called one of their best albums of their career. Offering a hybrid of new and old sounds, this gem is likely to not only please the long-standing fans but grab a whole new generation who, perhaps unknowingly, have been listening to OMD through influence in bands such as The Killers and LCD Soundsystem.
Opener NEW BABIES: NEW TOYS comes rearing out of the gate with a 'take that' attitude. It's edgier than what many think or remember OMD sounding but easily fits into todays mainstream with its bombastic bass, distorted vocals and heavy, head-bopping beats. It's followed by first single IF YOU WANT IT, a song written originally by Mr. M. in his girl band Atomic Kitten era. But filled with a catchy melody and choral "aws" it works, much in thanks to the retention of his valuable vocal quality at the ripe young age of 51!
HoM PART 1 and 2 are definitely OMD in their "pop hits" area and PART 1 is, in my opinion, OMD at their best. Mr. H.'s synths, earlier described as 'call and reply' play well with Mr. M.'s addicting refrain, laced with lovely harmonies. I challenge anyone to try sitting still for this one!
SOMETIMES is a slower, groovy number with additional vocal samples of Jennifer John to help get across the message of despondent love, while RFWK is one of a couple Kraftwerk-ish songs but rightfully so since it's a tribute to the band and their influences on both Mr. M. and Mr. H. With touching offerings displayed in lyrics "I loved you when I found you, I loved you like a son" all draped in synthetic, almost whiny keys, it makes one wonder just where these two would be in life had they not been in the crowd at the Kraftwerk show as teens!
And then there's NEW HOLY GROUND! This is a definite tear-jerker of a song. It begins with the sound of a woman's high heels hitting the ground as she paces the floor; an absolutely striking element to the song that repeatedly paints a vivid image to match the songs theme of profound self reflection and renewal. Add in deep, cello-like tones and an achingly beautiful single key melody, along with vocals that crack with emotion and you've got one of the most moving songs on the album! (Plus the fact that it was created in literally hours is just proof of the magic these two can do when put in a room together.)
THE FUTURE, THE PAST, AND FOREVER AFTER is a quirky little disco ditty that screams Georgio Moroder and could definitely get a dance floor going in both a retro and a modern club. SISTER MARIE SAYS, by Mr. M.'s account, was a song shelved way back in the early days for sounding too much like Enola Gay but given new life with modern technology, it's much like the HoM's, good ol' OMD synth-pop!
PULSE, ah, PULSE....yes well, to put it mildly, it stands out. It's a song that is probably the farthest from OMD than any can be and will cause many (including myself)to blush or drop the jaw because of its, shall I say 'adult' nature. It's filled with deep, seductively breathy vocals from Mr. M. with an almost equally alluring female backing track, all layered over an irresistible dance beat. What's not to like?!
After that, the cd takes a slower, more 'back to the beginning' approach. GREEN is in the realm of NHG with it's achingly divine melody and lyrical content that gets matched by Mr. H.'s, captivating instrumentation that includes rippling keys and a steady pound. BONDAGE OF FATE is, in many ways, more enthralling than Green or NHG; for some reason it just mesmerizes me. Maybe it's the waltz-like rhythm, or the woman's babbling or the choral sounds...all together it's just wonderful! And THE RIGHT SIDE?, well this is another treasure and a great way to round out the album. Giving one final nod to Kraftwerk, it's plinkering keys and ambient chorals easily make the 8.17 minute song flow by.
I rarely find a cd that doesn't have at least one song I don't like on it but can honestly say I like, and in more cases than not, LOVE the songs here. From a long-standing OMD fan, I am giddy with this return and think even newcomers to the world of OMD will embrace the caliber of the music on the release. A definite 5 stars from me!!!