OMD His­tory of Mod­ern (Bluenoise/Bright

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An­tenna) A dis­cus­sion about the first wave of Bri­tish synth pop’s suc­cess in Amer­ica isn’t a proper con­ver­sa­tion with­out a men­tion of Or­ches­tral Ma­noeu­vres in the Dark. Chart suc­cess for OMD peaked in the U.S. in the mid-1980s with the sin­gle “If You Leave,” which was recorded for the sound­track to John Hughes’ teen­scene mas­ter­piece Pretty in Pink. His­tory of

Mod­ern rep­re­sents the first al­bum fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal mem­bers Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey since that era, and an ap­pro­pri­ate way to de­scribe it, based on its con­tents and pack­ag­ing, would be “homely in orange.” “If You Leave” might have made head­way on Amer­i­can ra­dio, but it’s far from OMD’s best work. (For that, hunt down 1981’s Junk Cul­ture.) With this new re­lease, McCluskey and Humphreys con­tinue to chase the fad­ing comet trail of their Hughes-as­sisted win, again sac­ri­fic­ing elec­tronic ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and the­matic depth for some­thing more akin to a sam­ple-heavy re­tool­ing of Era­sure’s remixed U.K. hits. With the ex­cep­tion of a few down­tempo num­bers (“New Holy Ground,” “Green,” and “Bondage of Fate”) that ac­cen­tu­ate McCluskey’s iconic voice and thought­ful lyrics, OMD leans too heav­ily on dance-club clichés. With the group trad­ing truly or­ches­tral ma­neu­vers and heart­felt song­writ­ing for car-com­mer­cial beats and lines like “Pulse, put your fin­ger on my pulse, your fin­ger don’t stop un­til you got it,” it’s be­gin­ning to feel like OMD no longer has one worth tak­ing. — Rob DeWalt

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