The Future is Yesterday
OMD have been putting out music on a semi-regular basis for over 30 years, working a kind of longevity that most bands will never know. What started as a British new-wave band in the late ’70s slowly became a group that many future artists would cite as a major influence. English Electric, the band’s latest release, proves that they’re still working as hard as ever.
At the roots of English Electric are the same principles that made OMD so popular in their early days: catchy melodies, clever writing, and a tight combination of electronica and pop. Their sound is timeless. Lots of new acts are aligning themselves with this kind of styling, and in many ways new wave is as popular today as it has ever been. On this release, OMD has taken on a heavily computerized tone that gives their brand of synth-pop a futuristic, occasionally robotic feeling.
After its glitchy intro, English Electric breaks into “Metroland,” a track that immediately recalls Kraftwerk’s “Europe Endless,” among other classic electronic compositions. The whole album has a tone that seems to continually bring up the German computer lovers, though OMD’s sound is much quicker and more lively. Robotic voices run throughout several tracks to such an extent that it almost seems kitschy. Constant questions about the future pervade the music, and such questions have always been interesting. However, haven’t the same questions been asked before? Does futurism have the same impact when we live in the future that it used to describe?
Not really, but it still works.
In its stronger moments, English Electric is a great synth-pop album from artists who really know their craft. “Night Cafe” and “Stay With Me” are perfectly crafted pop songs that sound perfectly fresh in a genre that can seem stale at times. They prove that new wave was about more than hair and shirts. It was and is a kind of music that will always be welcome to listeners everywhere, and OMD does it better than most other bands in the world today.
If anything is holding this album back, it’s the post-futurist feeling that comes from looking forward and backward at the same time. It gives an eerie feeling of being trapped in the past. When all is said and done, however, English Electric is a solid album from a group of veterans who haven’t lost their touch in the least.