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omd englishelectric
Artist: OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)
Title: English Electric
Genre: Synth Pop / New Wave
Release Date: 5th April 2013
Label: BMG Rights Management


Album Review

Having OMD back in 2006 was probably one of the most unexpected and splendid come back the music planet saw. This new album has been written in a shorter space of time and can be consider as the real first new album of the band, and it's a standout one! The intro, ‘Please Remain Seated’, puts us back straight away in the ‘Dazzle Ships’ era with robotic voices and strange noises everywhere. The long-time fan can be afraid a second as ‘Dazzle Ships’ is considered as the commercial suicide of the band. After the incredible worldwide success of ‘Architecture & Morality’ in 1982, Paul and Andy consciously decided to break everything and went into a suicidal direction (on a commercial perspective as artistically, it was a damn good album). Would they go the same road after the success of their commercial return of ‘History Of Modern’?

It seems Andy and Paul have learned from the past and the 2nd track, ‘Metroland’ is there to put things straight: experimental, yes but let's not forget about melodies and pop. This 7”33 very KRAFTWERK track (the influence of the Düsseldorf electronic gods is all over the album, through every single second) is very melodic, melancholic and hypnotic. A great introduction! ‘Night Café’ might certainly be another single. We cannot think of ‘If You Leave or Forever Live and Die’. Andy's bass is there. It's an old track Andy couldn't do anything with that Paul completely re-worked. And this is a key to this album. Paul is THE man behind the sound, the consistency and the deliberate will of making it a very electronic album. ‘The Future Will Be Silent’ is another electronic/ experimental interlude and sum up the all concept and idea of this album: the future, despite all technological, sociological, political moves of the last decades is far, far from being the one people dreamt of back in the 60's/70's.

‘The Future’ was not supposed to be like that states the robotic voice. ‘Helen of Troy’ is written with the Synth-Pop band FOTONOVELA and take us straight back to ‘Joan Of Arc/ Maid Of Orleans’. Could have definitely been on ‘Architecture and Morality’ and is a standout track. Andy's voice is sumptuous. ‘Our System’ features some NASA samples (long time source of inspiration for Andy, i.e. Appollo on Sugar Tax) and is again back in the experimental mood. Reminds a lot of ‘Of All The Things We've Made’. It's a superb track featuring Malcom Holmes powerful drums. It's strange having such a great drummer and not having him more often playing on the album by the way. ‘Kissing The Machine’ is a long time track, released in the early 90's on ‘Electrik Music’ (Karl Bartos) debut album, but completely re-worked by Paul around the original Andy's voice and a couple of existing synths melodies. This time, Claudia Brücken performs the voice of the machine. Hard to believe on the same song you have Karl Bartos, Andy, Paul and Claudia.

The result is not that different from the original song. A refreshed version let's say. But at least, it gives a second life to this beautiful slow and mellow track. After another short interlude, ‘Decimal’, it's Paul's voice that take over for the melancholic ‘Stay With Me’, co-written by Paul, Andy and James Watson from MANHATTAN CLIQUE and ONETWO. Not a standout track, but nice to hear Paul's delicate voice again. Dresden is the typical pop up-tempo OMD song, very close to songs such as ‘Pandora's Box’, ‘Sister Mary Says’ or ‘Boys From The Chemist’, a pure pop song that could have been perfect without this really annoying synth melody that doubles Andy's voice. Another experimental interlude follows: ‘Atomic Ranch’, summing up the dreams of modern western civilization: a house, a car, two kids, a yard, a job, a perfect life... And to conclude the album, we have ‘The Final Song’. Let's reinsure fans straight away: Andy confirms in the DVD's interview that “It’s not intended to be the last OMD song!” This one takes to the kind of ‘La Femme Accident’ jazzy/ rumba style with some hypnotic vocal samples and smooth keyboard lines, a feeling of appeasement.

As per the collector edition, we can say the band has done a great job! It comes in a beautiful metal box and contains a CD of 9 demos: 2 different versions of ‘Electric Café’ (titled Hopper I and II), 2 others from ‘The Future Remains Silent’ (Future I and II) as well as demos from ‘Atomic Ranch’, ‘Helen Of Troy’, ‘Stay With Me’ (title Idea 3), ‘Dresden’ and ‘Our System’ (titled Jupiter). It also contains a DVD with a long interview of Paul & Andy as well as a track by track discussion and animated videos. There's also a 7” vinyl of ‘Our System’ backed with an unreleased track, ‘Frontline’, plus some 7 live pictures or illustrations, 2 pins and a nice booklet.

To sum it up, ‘Electric Café’ is probably one of the most coherent and, let's not be afraid saying it, one of the most beautiful album heard from OMD. ‘History Of Modern’ was a great album too, but as the band explains in the DVD, it was more a collection of songs that has been written over the last decades and never used (as well as new songs). I took it at the time as a Best Of OMD with new songs summarizing very well all different eras of the band. This one was written on a 2 years space of time, with both Paul and Andy in the same room, sharing ideas, jamming around a clear concept and a clear direction. It's so good to see this band formed around 1978 being capable of pulling out such a master piece in 2013. A must have in all New Wave / Synth-Pop / Electronic lovers.


Tracklist

01. Please Remain Seated
02. Metroland
03. Night Café
04. The Future Will Be Silent
05. Helen of Troy
06. Our System
07. Kissing the Machine
08. Decimal
09. Stay With Me
10. Dresden
11. Atomic Ranch
12. Final Song
BONUS iTUNES: No Man's Land

BONUS COLLECTOR BOX
CD2 – The Demos:
01. Atomic Ranch
02. Helen of Troy
03. Future I (The Future Will Be Silent )
04. Stay With Me
05. Hopper I  (Night Café)
06. Dresden
07. Future 2 (The Future Will Be Silent)
08. Hopper 2 (Night Café)
09. Jupiter (Our System)
DVD
Studio Interview
Track By Track
Animated videos
7” VINYL
01. Our System
02. Frontline


Line-up

Andy McClusckey - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Paul Humphreys - Vocals, Keyboards
Malcom Holmes - Drums
Martin Cooper - Keyboards


Website

http://www.omd.uk.com


Cover Picture

omd englishelectric


Rating

Music: 9.5
Sound: 9.5
Bonus : 9.5
Total: 9.5 / 10





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