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English Electric - Omd

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Artist: Omd / CD+DVD / Audio CD released 2013-04-08 at Republic of Music

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    2 Reviews
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      28.05.2013 14:52
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      OMD's first studio album for three years.

      OMD - English Electric -- OMD or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were never one of my favourite eighties groups but that doesn't mean to say I didn't like them; I just liked so many other bands better than them. The one thing I did like was the synthesiser driven beats and the heavy mixing and experimental type tracks that they would produce. This for me at times was spoiled by the lovey-dovey sound of the vocals. I did like some of their tracks though and feel that they are producing better stuff now than they did then. I was sixteen in nineteen eighty-four and the eighties were a big influence on me music wise and I still listen to most of those bands today; the new stuff as well as the old albums. I've always loved synth driven pop or new romantic stuff and I'm still a massive Duran Duran fan today. I used to balk at the fact that one of my friends who was a big OMD fan used to say that they created the synth sound. Personally for me, The Human League and Nick Rhodes of Duran were the pioneers, not to mention Vince Clarke, Depeche Mode and many others I could mention. Simple Minds added an industrial, edgy sound to synths and for me OMD were not in the same league. Kraftwerk were a massive influence on OMD and you can hear that in their music. They formed in nineteen seventy-eight with synth players and vocalists Andy McClusky and Paul Humphreys churning out a few memorable hits in the early eighties. The late eighties saw their fan base dwindle and Humphreys left the band. McClusky carried on with different members coming and going until he disbanded OMD in nineteen ninety-six. McClusky managed the girl band Atomic Kitten and co-wrote their famous hit 'Whole Again'. McClusky and Humphreys reformed OMD along with original line up members Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper in 2006. Their first album for fourteen years 'History of Modern' came out in 2010. This album 'English Electric' came out three years later in this year 2013 on the fifth of April. The first single from the album 'Metroland', was released on March 25th 2013 and the second single 'Dresden' on 20th May 2013. Whatever you think of the band, they have sold over forty million records worldwide. And have influenced some modern day bands such as 'The Killers' and 'Death Cab for Cutie'. Let's take a look at the new album 'English Electric'. ---- Track One - Please Remain Seated -- Not really a track as such and more of an intro to the album. We hear an announcement on a PA system, from a Japanese or Chinese woman in a futuristic or robotic voice. It is then translated and we hear the message in English to track fade. 'May I have your attention please? The future you have anticipated has been cancelled. Please remain seated and wait for further instructions.' -- Track Two - Metroland -- When this track starts it is immediately recognisable as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The beat is steady and purposely repetitive. Not to mention the recognisable tones of McClusky and Humphreys. It makes you feel like you're riding along on an electronic horse and visually it is a great track. It is the longest track on the album at seven minutes and thirty-three seconds. It's a nice song but never quite explodes in the way that you are hoping it will for such a long track. The beginning sounds like the OMD of old with a very eighties computer game vibe to it. Sounds well cool on headphones. The first single release from the album. 'Today is yesterday, every day in Metroland' -- Track Three - Night Café -- More heady synths blending at the start of this one and again of the binatone or Rolf Harris xylophone type. The track moves on to the more hearty, yet soft electronica that the band is renowned for. You can still tell that they are building their own synthesisers because they have that unique OMD sound to them. Even if the electronica beat does still sound like that slightly famous German group that Humphreys and McClusky make no bones about being influence by. -- Track Four - The Future Will be Silent -- If we needed any proof that the boys were still playing with their toys and experimenting with synths then we need look no further than this track. It is like Super Mario meets Kraftwerk before evolving into Skrillex. Full of beats, bases, synths and samples. 'What does the future sound like? Silent. The future is the shadow of today' -- Track Five - Helen of Troy -- Destined to be compared to the old classic OMD song 'Joan of Arc' and to be honest, rightly so. It does sound like it. A bog standard OMD track and one you would expect to hear from new album. It is still a listenable little track though and deserves its place on the album. 'Helen of Troy black and white, she cries all day and cries all night' -- Track Six = Our System -- An industrial start to this number and it alludes to some of their old work, which to be honest I used to think Simple Minds made a better job of when it came to tracks like this. It does become apparent though that this track does work and has a nice sound to it. I really do like the heavy beat and base driven riff to this track. It absolutely explodes into life halfway through and we are treated to great choir-like backing vocals. The end is a mix of radio frequencies and back to that industrial sound. 'Across the universe, we're reaching into heaven, only to perceive no one there at all.' -- Track Seven - Kissing the Machine -- I absolutely love the eighties type electronica of this tracks beat but it peels off into too much of a soppy attempt at a love song, which spoiled my initial excitement at the tracks start. Not a bad little song but too soft for me. 'I want you to want me; I need you to need me' -- Track Eight - Decimal -- More a sample than a track, at one minute and sixteen seconds long. It works to a certain extent but they may as well have asked Kraftwerk to write it for them and then perform it for them so they could record it for the album. Pointless really. -- Track Nine - Stay With Me -- A monumental OMD track. Couldn't have rolled back the years to the eighties tracks they did any better if they'd have popped in the tardis and zoomed back there to write it. The quintessential OMD track for the album. The vocals are again soft and sultry but the synths make the track and the electronic piano sound amazing. 'If only I could stop them falling, falling down like rain. If only I could stop those tears that knock you down again.' -- Track Ten - Dresden -- What a delightful upbeat and pounding track. The one I had been waiting for and a veritable anthem that will go down a treat at live shows. Classic OMD with a new improved upbeat chop of a chorus in the brilliant synthesiser sound that provides the core to the track. Dresden is not a call to Kraftwerk as they hailed from Dusseldorf but I'm not familiar enough with the band to know the reasoning behind the title, if any. This is the second single to be released off the album and was released eight days prior to me writing this review on May 20th2013. 'Set the dials to overload, my head is ready to explode.' -- Track Eleven - Atomic Ranch -- Another track made out of samples. I suppose it is fun but it is waste of a track for me. It may be fun to some but it is also incredibly annoying, especially on headphones. 'I want a house and a car and a robot wife.' -- Track Twelve - Final Song -- Track twelve is named Final Song and it is indeed the final song on the album. A very slow start with more robotic voice samples before a Japanese sounding synth kicks in. Probably the most pop related track on the album. Not a bad way to end the album and much better than one of the short sample songs ending it as that would have left it all rather flat. Not an amazing finish by any stretch though and there is too much sampling towards the end to render it a full song. This track contains samples from the Abbey Lincoln song 'Lonely House'. 'Break all the bones of the dying man. Drink the blood from the poison can.' ---- My Thoughts -- I think this may be an album that grows on me and does make me curious about the album I missed three years ago. Andy McClusky is the drive behind the album, writing every song bar one; 'Stay With Me', was written by Paul Humphreys and James Watson. As you would expect, the whole album is synthesiser or keyboard driven, with the whole band, McClusky, Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes all playing the instrument. McClusky and Humphrey's vocals are still so easily recognisable and you know it's their album straight away. It's not a bad effort at all and I think it will go down well with OMD fans. The critics have generally given it a favourable review across the music industry. It got to number one in the UK Indie charts, number twelve in the UK album charts and number eight in the Dance/Electronic charts. It faired two places better in Germany than the UK, reaching number ten in the German charts. The sleeve for the album was designed by Tom Skipp. You can pick the album up as an MP3 on iTunes or from any good record shop on CD or Vinyl. The album can be picked up on Amazon or eBay for as little as six pounds. I give the album three out of five stars. ©Lee Billingham

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      • More +
        24.05.2013 13:03
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        A combination of nods to OMD's past and modern and innovative songs.

        OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), the synth-pop/New Wave band famed for 80s hits such as "Enola Gay", "Joan of Arc" and "Maid of Orleans", started touring again a few years ago, initially performing their classic albums live and going on to release an album, "History of Modern" in 2010. "English Electric", their second album since the original line-up got back together, was released in April 2013. I bought "History of Modern" when it was released, and went to see OMD live. The gig was excellent and the album had its moments, but suffered from being a little inconsistent, with some stand-out tracks and some weaker ones. Happily, it seems that "History of Modern" was something of a reunion warm-up, and "English Electric" is a much more solid and confident album. The album has a theme, something I love in this age of people downloading single tracks. (Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I still love nothing more than an album with an overall mood in which I can immerse myself). The theme here is how modern life with all its technological innovations has turned out to be, frankly, a bit rubbish. "English Electric" contains a mix of different songwriting styles. Some tracks are short sketches featuring robotic-sounding female announcers, including opening track "Please Remain Seated", with its declaration that "the future that you anticipated has been cancelled" setting the tone. "Atomic Ranch", towards the end of the album, has male and female computerised voices making statements such as "I want a house and a car and a robot wife", gradually breaking down into "I want more", "I want a future" and "I want love". It's poignant stuff, yet the album never feels miserable as it contains so many signature OMD pop hooks. "Helen of Troy" is a highlight, signalling that the band still have a penchant for writing pop classics about unlikely female subjects, and while they'll probably never hit the heights of "Joan of Arc" or "Maid of Orleans" again, "Helen of Troy" is lovely in its own right. The first single to be taken from the album, "Metroland", is an upbeat dancey number that gets away with being seven minutes long in this age of short attention spans. "Dresden", which has just been released as the second single, has an irresistible synth hook reminiscent of the OMD classic "Enola Gay". The album finishes, appropriately, with the haunting "Final Song", featuring a sample of "Lonely House" by jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln. It's an unusual song to find on an OMD album and yet it seals the mood nicely. This is a really enjoyable album and one which I'm currently listening to on rotation on my walks to work. After so many years away from recording and performing together, OMD have had a startling return to form.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Please Remain Seated
      2 Metroland
      3 Night Cafe
      4 The Future Will Be Silent
      5 Helen of Troy
      6 Our System
      7 Kissing the Machine
      8 Decimal
      9 Stay With Me
      10 Dresden
      11 Atomic Ranch
      12 Final Song

      Disc #2 Tracklisting
      1 Please Remain Seated
      2 Metroland
      3 Night Cafe
      4 The Future Will Be Silent
      5 Helen of Troy
      6 Our System
      7 Kissing the Machine
      8 Decimal
      9 Stay With Me
      10 Dresden
      11 Atomic Ranch
      12 Final Song