OMD: English Electric
Late career comebacks don’t come much better than this. You may say that I am biased; citing as evidence my ‘other’ blog entitled 500 Reasons Why The ‘80’s Didn’t Suck, or maybe the dozens of 1980’scentric posts that have appeared right here over the years. Christ, a few may have even been about OMD.
Yes I have a definite affinity for ‘80’s music and, in particular, the early albums of OMD. But I will say in response that I have not been a fan of anything this band has put out since 1984’s Junk Culture, although a couple of songs off of 1985’s Crush (Bloc Bloc Bloc, 88 Seconds In Greensboro, and even the overly sentimental So In Love, when the mood hits) remain nostalgic faves. Those first 5 albums, however, are incredible examples of how electronic music can overcome the cold, sterile stereotype it often evokes. The best of the bunch is probably Architecture and Morality, but the experimental Dazzle Ships, the moody and industrial Organisation, the naive debut and the great pop crossover album Junk Culture all are worthy purchases and have stayed in rotation in the E household for well over 30 years.
In between they have put out 6 more proper albums and a couple live ones. All don’t come close to recapturing the grandeur of those first 5. Let’s call it “The Simple Minds Syndrome”, or SMS for short. And while I am still waiting for Simple Minds to reclaim their rightful throne from the far inferior U2, OMD has just renewed my faith via 2013’s English Electric.
I’m not sure, but after 10 or so listens to this I am apt to say it belongs in their Top 3, but this may be due to an initial over-excitement on my part, but I cannot see this ever being any less than deserving of inclusion into the leagues of the fabulous five. Really! What this does better than any other OMD album is to blend the experimental and the pure pop seamlessly together for an extremely coherent and enjoyable (albeit brief) 43 minutes. It’s weird, heartfelt and accessible the way The Flaming Lips used to be, and that is a HUGE compliment.
Yes there are elements of this that will remind you of Kraftwerk; but that’s like saying thee are elements of The Beatles in Big Star songs. OMD have always been very open in their absolute devotion to Kraftwerk, and have always used some of that band’s elements. But it doesn’t matter, because it just ends up sounding like OMD to me anyway. And I can sure think of worse bands to model yourself after. If you are a fan of electronic pop music you will like both and be able to appreciate this for what it is: A damn fine pop album.