Co-founder Paul Humphreys stated that the album title “was a reference to the fact that the electric pioneers were the last real modernist movement in music, with everything subsequent looking backwards for its inspiration.”
Indeed, scattered throughout the fourteen songs on ‘History of Modern’ is evidence clearly reflective of the classic sounds of OMD (aka Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark). I feel like I am walking a deliberate journey with Paul and Andy – like I’ve gotten to know that them that much better through this release.
While there are many possible commercial promises on ‘History of Modern,’ one can also hear several personal statements. It’s this smart blending of promises and statements that will keep bringing their audience back for more.
Starting off ‘History of Modern’ is the brilliant ‘New Babies: New Toys’ a track layered in guitars and drum work peppered with fiery vocals. The arrangement and lyrics are infectious – ‘They don’t want you, they don’t need you.’ A solid example of that classic OMD sound infused with a modern edge.
For more of this rich, definitive sound, check out ‘The Future’ – the lyrical delivery (“Like a bullet from a gun, Like a sacrifice in the church of life…”) and progressive bassline scream dance floor hit. Yet, perhaps the biggest potential release here – albeit for the clubs – does not feature the vocals of either Andy or Phil, instead, the vocals of the one and only soul diva Aretha Franklin dominate this single. The single? “Save Me” – a mash-up of OMD’s “Messages” and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Save Me’ – is brilliant, and while it may not appeal to die-hard OMD fans, it has huge potential to draw in a new audience (particularly those younger, not familiar with this classic group) and could be rather massive on the charts with the right remixes.
There are some singles I did have difficulty listening to entirely – I didn’t either connect with them or find them engaging. Understand, I have no issues with slower tracks, some here on this release are appealing – but these, “RFWK,” “New Holy Ground,” “Green,” and especially “Bondage of Fate” are bordering on boring, some dreadfully so.
In the same vein, but with better vocal delivery and overall musicality, are the singles “If You Want It” and “The Right Side,” the latter of which may appeal to the Enigma crowd.
Rounding this release out, we return back to the classic vibe of OMD in “Sister Marie Says” – if there ever was a most excellent ‘car ride track’ – this may be it. Continuing on the leg of this journey is “History of Modern (Part I)” – an almost sinfully delicious track with vulnerable vocals and a compelling bassline.
My final thoughts are on “Pulse” – “Pulse” has the potential to be the 2011 male version of Madonna's Erotica. It’s a very sexy, very smart production.
This is a great release worthy of waiting so long for. Many of these tracks are destined for the radio, for the clubs and for your collection. It truly is a History of Modern – as Modern is today.