OMD (aka Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) return with their first new album in 14 years. History of Modern will be released September 28th in the US via Bright Antenna Records through Warner Music Group’s Independent Label Group. The US version of History of Modern contains the US only exclusive track, “Save Me,” which features Aretha Franklin and is the album’s first single. Spin.com has an exclusive interview with OMD’s Andy McCluskey along with the premiere of the new song “New Babies: New Toys.” Check it out HERE. Daily Motion just premiered the video for the first UK single, “If You Want It,” which is can be seen HERE.
Fans have the opportunity to pre-order History of Modern at OMD’s own webstore – WWW.OMD.HASAWEBSTORE.COM
. They can choose between a limited edition box set and bundles including autographed vinyl, CD’s and exclusive t-shirt designs. All pre-orders come with an instant digital download of the single, “Save Me.”
One of the reasons OMD have called their brand new album – their eleventh – History of Modern is because they are acutely aware of what it is they’re doing with this release. On paper, this is the UK synth-pop pioneers’ first new material since 1996, but in spirit, History of Modern has more in common with the group’s early ’80s heyday, when Enola Gay and Souvenir, penned by two teenage Krautrock fans from the Wirral, lit up the charts and set the agenda for a bold new movement in British electronic music.
In tandem with the Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys, OMD’s tuneful blend of cutting-edge synthwork, cool minimalism and soulful pop – honed to perfection on the albums Architecture & Morality, Dazzle Ships and Organisation– defined the decade, sold millions of records, and turned childhood pals Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys into stars.
“We were trying to be modern,” says Andy, pointing out that, in 1980, OMD were one of the first acts to use a sampler. “After architecture, art and design, popular music was the last of the great modernist movements, and we were genuinely trying to do something new. Quite how we thought we were going to change the world with three-and-a-half-minute pop songs, I don’t know, but we thought we could.”
Fast forward 30 years to the reunited OMD of 2010 and it’s clear that that sense of mischief and youthful idealism still fuels the group. “I suppose the nice thing is that, just like in the early days, we made this record simply because we fancied making a record,” says Andy. “There was no pressure to make a record in order to sell records and sustain a career. It was like making a first album again.”
In these electro-friendly times, OMD’s influence has become ubiquitous. The XX, Brandon Flowers of The Killers, and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy have cited OMD as an inspiration, while the likes of La Roux, Cold Cave and The Horrors show traces of OMD’s DNA. Andy notes that today OMD is perceived to have its place in the “pantheon of relevant popular music history”, something which seemed unthinkable during the Britpop era, when ’60s revivalism finished off the last incarnation of OMD, a solo venture by Andy (Paul had left in 1989).
Fortunately, by anyone’s standards, History of Modern is an excellent album, one that fizzes with energy and captures the group’s newfound enthusiasm. Then again, between them, Andy and Paul have some 60 years of songwriting and music-making experience, so they do know their way around a hit. Propelled by synth riffs, ‘New Babies: New Toys’ and the two ‘History of Modern’ tracks are very much a return to form, while ‘RFWK’ doffs its cap to Kraftwerk, and ‘The Future, the Past, and Forever After’ has shades of OMD’s northwest contemporaries, New Order. Elsewhere, ‘Sister Marie Says’ echoes ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Maid of Orleans’.
Upbeat and bristling with ideas, ‘History of Modern’ was mixed by Arctic Monkeys/Foals engineer Mike Crossey, and offers a slightly rawer kind of pleasure to the serene melancholy of OMD’s early-’80s moments. In a nice touch, the record’s sleeve was designed by Peter Saville, who was responsible for the iconic artwork of those first OMD albums. Saville was the in-house designer at Factory Records, the label that released OMD’s debut single, ‘Electricity’, in 1979. For many, ‘History of Modern’ will be their first experience of OMD, and one hopes their curiosity will lead them, via YouTube and Spotify, to ‘Organisation’, ‘Architecture and Morality’ and ‘Dazzle Ships’ – key works in the Synth Britannia canon.
The music industry OMD have returned to in 2010 is in a very different state to the one that helped them sell millions of records 20-odd years ago. But their attitude hasn’t changed. “Back then, we weren’t following anybody’s rules but our own,” Andy says. “Today, if you’re considered credible and you still have a relevance, then you’re allowed back on your pedestal. That’s what we’ve discovered to our great delight.
“And this record,” he adds, “is just another part of the jigsaw of us reclaiming our place in the broader picture.”
1 New Babies: New Toys
2 If You Want It
3 History of Modern (Part I)
4 History of Modern (Part II)
7 New Holy Ground
8 The Future, The Past, And Forever After
9 Sister Marie Says
12 Bondage of Fate
13 The Right Side
14 Save Me (featuring Aretha Franklin)