52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful pop mosaic from the original Synth Britannia duo
Since Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys announced their reformation at a fan convention in 2005, OMD have enjoyed something of a career renaissance. Reunited along with Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes, the classic 4-piece performed their 1981 masterpiece, "Architecture & Morality", in full for the first time on 2007's highly successful tour. With the synthpop pioneers...
Published 15 months ago by The_Dread_Council
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OMD, but not at there best
To me this album is all right but it does not float my boat so to speak. The quality is of a high standard and OMD are a great electric but I find I do not play it as much as I do History of Modern. There is something missing here and it's difficult to put a finger upon it.
Published 1 month ago by Dangerous Dave
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful pop mosaic from the original Synth Britannia duo,
Since Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys announced their reformation at a fan convention in 2005, OMD have enjoyed something of a career renaissance. Reunited along with Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes, the classic 4-piece performed their 1981 masterpiece, "Architecture & Morality", in full for the first time on 2007's highly successful tour. With the synthpop pioneers back in vogue, and with long overdue critical acclaim for the albums created during the band's Imperial phase in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was fresh impetus to deliver some new product, and this eventually materialised in 2010...
In truth, McCluskey had been stockpiling material since 1996's "Universal", the last of a trio of `solo' albums that McCluskey had recorded under the OMD moniker for Virgin Records. "History Of Modern" was essentially another solo work, with Humphreys committed to other projects (such as his work with partner Claudia Brucken in OneTwo). Disappointingly it was a rather unbalanced affair, with outtakes ("Sister Marie Says") nestling alongside Atomic Kitten rejects (see the rather strained "If You Want It") and a smattering of new compositions that had been written by McCluskey after his commitment to other girl acts such as The Genie Queen had lapsed. Significantly, however, Humphreys collaborated with McCluskey on the album's two best cuts - "Green" (originally demoed by McCluskey in the early 90s) and the enchanting "New Holy Ground", the track that came the closest to mirroring that classic OMD sound. Fast-forward 3 years and we have 12th album, "English Electric", with both McCluskey and Humphreys pulling the choral strings...
It is OMD's fourth album, "Dazzle Ships", that provides the blueprint for this lovingly crafted album, with sound tapestries interspersed throughout the assured 12-track set. "Please be Seated", the first of four sound collages, starts "English Electric", PA announcement style (with tantalising echoes of "Radio Waves" and "Introducing Radios") before the first song proper, "Metroland", begins its 7-minute-plus synthpop odyssey. Picking up where "The Right Side" left off on the previous album, it is another unashamed doffing of the cap to Kraftwerk (see "Europe Endless"). The track (much like The Human League's excellent "Night People") was cruelly edited and released as the album's first single in March this year. Third track "Night Café" maintains the momentum, with a teasing intro that evokes their first hit "Messages", with lyrics inspired by the work of American painter Edward Hopper (who had influenced the sleeve design for 1985's "Crush") and intriguingly described by Humphreys as "Souvenir meets She's Leaving".
With the previous tracks being steeped so evidently in the past, by contrast, "The Future Will Be Silent" is a more experimental affair, featuring a whispered vocal from McCluskey, robotic voices, Kraftwerk-like melodic interspersions and even a hint of dubstep, as if to emphasize that the 21st century version of OMD is much more than a nostalgia trip. "Helen of Troy", a collaboration with Greek act Fotonovella, is more traditional OMD fare, allowing former history student McCluskey to indulge the listener with a semi-sequel to OMD's classic brace of "Joan of Arc" tracks, with his paean to the mythological Greek warrior (previously immortalized in Icehouse's excellent "Trojan Blue" from 1982's "Primitive Man"). Bearing rhythmical similarities to the aforementioned "Joan of Arc", and containing the duo's trademark choral flourishes, this is classic OMD. Track six, the beautiful "Our System", continues in the same 'old school' vein; a slow building choral-heavy workout featuring samples of NASA Voyager recordings and some effective cascading drums from Mal Holmes in the coda.
While McCluskey's insistence on ostensibly using the previous album to 'clear the decks' rendered the project more OCD than OMD at times, "English Electric" benefits hugely from its compositions being conceived within a narrower timeframe, making it a far more cohesive affair. The one exception is "Kissing The Machine", a collaboration with former Kraftwerk meister Karl Bartos that was originally released under the guise of Elektric Music in 1993. Humphreys has transformed the electro ballad, giving it a more uptempo and contemporary sheen; even enlisting the services of partner Claudia Brucken to provide the spoken word vocal mid-song. While many fans have bemoaned the track's inclusion, it does fit the album's retro-modern template. And it's a great song that deserves a wider audience. Fans of Kraftwerk (and indeed this record) would also be advised to check out Karl Bartos's excellent new album, "Off The Record".
It was "Decimal", another musical mosaic that offered OMD fans their first taste of the new album earlier this year. Playing like a 21st Century "Time Zones", this curious soundbite perfectly bridges the gap between the previous track and the simply gorgeous ballad "Stay With Me", which features a rare Humphreys vocal (his first lead on an OMD album since "(Forever) Live And Die" in 1986). Another single contender.
"Dresden" (wisely chosen as the album's second single) is structurally similar to "Sister Marie Says" (itself something of a musical cousin of "Enola Gay"), and further enhances the album's classic OMD status, with its driving bass line and a monstrous synth motif that has the potential to be as ubiquitous as the one that permeates Muse's "Starlight".
Arguably the album's two strangest tracks are reserved for the climax. "Atomic Ranch", the penultimate track, boasts cacophonous sound effects and, ostensibly, a statement about modern consumerism. The ephemeral - and aptly titled - "Final Song" is further challenging. Sonically sounding like a revisit of old b-sides "Annex" and "Navigation", it features a typically abstract lyric from McCluskey, while some unexpected near-operatic female vocals add an unusual flavour to the mix.
Thirty-five years since their formation, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have crafted an album that comfortably nestles alongside the best work created by the core duo of McCluskey and Humphreys. Whilst it sometimes feels a bit clinical in its execution, this is a beautifully produced (and perfectly sequenced) set of songs, with an attention to detail lacking from previous albums. A real surprise in fact. (9/10)
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best album in 30 years,
I loved OMD in the early 80's. For me, tracks such as 'Statues' and 'Stanlow' on the Organisation album were the pinacle of OMD excellence. They were dark, brooding and atmospheric pieces of work. But I also loved the more catchy pop elements of OMD, as they were always infused with great synth sounds. I just found I got less interested in them as they became more mainstream through the mid-80's and onwards.
So it was a big surprise to me, to find this album of interest. I'd assumed that OMD were very much past their sell by date, but I'm amazed to hear that this album is a hark back to the more catchy / experimental sides of OMD that I loved back in the earl 80's, and at the same time, sounding fresh and contemporary.
It's a beautifully produced album. Good songs, good sounds, harking back to the classic sounds of OMD and the more electronic and 'Kraftwerk' influenced sounds of Messages and Enola Gay.
It's not a classic, it isn't better than those earlier albums, but it's a very welcome return to what I think OMD do best: merging catchy electro pop with atmospherics. It's a great record and they should be proud of themselves. I would be if I were them :-)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good OMD album,
I really like this OMD album. To my ears, it doesn't sound as though they've moved on at all in the 30-odd years since Enola Gay first stood me on my ear - which is just fine by me. The synth and vocals sound remarkably similar to those on Organisation, and there is a fine mixture of tuneful and more spiky tracks.
English Electric struck me as a bit like a trip back to my twenties. Metroland is a great, straight-down-the-line electropop dance tune (with the prominent drum track sounding rather more like a Vince Clarke production) that I could have been dancing to in 1982. Helen Of Troy has echoes of Joan Of Arc. Kissing The Machine is a haunting tune featuring a breathy female voice speaking German and hinting at both Visage's Fade To Grey and The Mobiles' Drowning In Berlin...and so on. There are some intelligent and thoughtful lyrics throughout the album, too. In between the tuneful songs are some voice and effects tracks hinting at a dystopian future. As with some parts of albums of old, these are great for a listen or two, but now I've heard this album a few times I find I'm grateful that these days that I no longer have to get up and physically move the stylus in order to skip tracks.
This is OMD doing what they do best and doing it very well. If you like that then you'll like this album. An unmitigated classic? Probably not - but it's a very good album with some cracking songs on it and I'd certainly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work, fantastic music from start to finish,
Brilliant work, fantastic music from start to finish! Over the decades OMD always give so much to the listener in every song and album they create, B-sides included. If English Electric and their previous album History of Modern are to be OMD's final recordings, I will be devastated but very thankful for these last two masterpieces. What a way to go out if OMD do hang it up for good.. but please don't. I'm not going to review each song track by track (that's for each listener to decide) or do ridiculous comparisons to past OMD albums. There is no reason to compare the old with the new; nothing remains the same through time and experience. This music is new, timeless, beautiful, inspiring, engaging and fully dance-able if your body still allows it. As always, Andy McCluskey's voice is so distinctive and the most moving and prominent instrument in their work. English Electric and History of Modern are pure OMD for the 21st century, Buy it, buy them both now and while you're at it, check out their previous releases too. The English Electric box set is well worth the price with all of it's contents including, M & H's autographs, photos, lyric booklet, 2 bonus discs (a dvd and a demo cd) and a blue vinyl record featuring "Our System" and "Frontline". I'm so thrilled that I was able to find the box set through Amazon UK as It's difficult to find in the U.S.
5.0 out of 5 stars electro pop are omd,
this is an album by the understated masters of electronic music,full of ideas and listening pleasure which expands the listening experience
4.0 out of 5 stars back to their best,
omd have turned back the years with this album. It sounds very much like their early work (1981-1983). This cd came with a dvd of the music videos of the album tracks,which was a nice bonus. Metroland is a blast from the past,any OMD fan will love this album. Hope they continue to make albums/singles like these.
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Electronica,
This review is from: English Electric (MP3 Download)
Great album retro, but fresh sounding at the same time not an easy act to pull off. If you liked them the first time revisit and you won't be disappointed.
5.0 out of 5 stars At Their Best,
If you like early OMD, you`ll love this. Paul on vocals on Stay With Me is one of the highlights. For the more moody side - Helen Of Troy is the best thing they have done for years. Our System starts off strange, but builds into a superb track - make sure you see them live for this. All in all, a wonderful album.
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy addition to OMD catalogue,
A return to form by one of the best 80s bands. Probably slightly over produced compared to rawer sound of early albums, up to A&M. Nevertheless some really good tunes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill..,
This is OMD at their best. Great tracks throughout and the beat goes on. Metroland is fantastic and let's hope "the future will not be silent".
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