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"History of the Modern"

OMD – History of the Modern
22 September 2010, 12:00 Written by Gina Louise

Ah, I remember OMD’s minimal, society slating days. Okay, so being 22, that’s a bit of a lie, but I feel like I do. That’s the beauty of OMD; despite their music being distinctly period, sometimes it’s nice to be transported back to a time when things made sense. A time when epic music was celebrated, not castigated – where effort counted.

They sang in a time when technology was relished, rather than relied upon, although I’m quite glad they haven’t retained the technology obsession they preached about in their earlier days… Whilst the awe of mod cons is a part of what makes me love OMD, there would be nothing sadder than to hear Paul Humphries bragging about how sweet his new electronic tin opener is.

History of Modern appears to have made a conscious effort not to progress from OMD’s intrinsically ‘80s pop, with synths and bouncy melodies galore. They let slip into the modern a couple of times, and although I’d love to believe the scratching and modern beats of ‘Sometimes’ is an ironical statement similar to the one in which Humphries claimed there’s been no significant musical movement since ‘80s electronica, I fear it is not. But, for the most part, they stick to what they do best: lyrically challenging, if somewhat cheesy, pop.

Whilst the lyrics of History of Modern don’t rival their provocative earlier songs such as ‘Enola Gay’, they manage to sneak a fair few bombshells into their upbeat rhythms. The two parter from which the album draws its name pulls some, along with the pop-tastic ‘Sister Marie Says’.

Stand out track is ‘Pulse’; its modern nostalgic approach to electro is so inkeeping with current bands such as Cold Cave, that it produces an ironic twist of an established band trying to sound like a new band trying to sound old. Although maybe they should have omitted the swearing: it’s not big, and it’s not clever. Reprimand over, it’s still pretty good track.

For anyone scared that this album will topple the pedestal you have placed OMD on, never fear, the boys have still got it. Their barbed tongues remain intact, and you can expect some well aimed quips at religion, politics and warfare. For those OMD virgins with a stomach for all things ‘80s, look past the esoteric façade… there’s gold under there. Or rather a rainbow coloured jumpsuit.

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