(Synthpop pioneer O.M.D. releases new album)
Many bands and artists, especially those whose music lies on the confines of dance, electronic, and other synthesizer-heavy music, often cite O.M.D. as highly influential because O.M.D. is one of the earliest proponents of Synthpop, along with Kraftwerk, Alphaville, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Soft Cell, Camouflage, Pet Shop Boys, Devo, and Ultravox.
Originated in the early 1970s and had commercially peaked in the 1980s, Synthpop is a genre of music best defined by the liberal use of synthesizers and keyboards and elements of dance and electronic. It is closely related to the keyboard-oriented New Wave and guitar-driven Postpunk, making the music of many bands of the era crossover onto these three music genres.
Founded in 1978 in North West England, O.M.D. (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) had a string of singles that became massive hits especially in the 1980s (“Secret,” “Enola Gay,” “So in Love,” to name a few); but the song “If You Leave,” written for the 1986 film Pretty in Pink, was perhaps what catapulted O.M.D. to international popularity. O.M.D. experienced changes in membership and bouts of inactivity in the late 1990s. However, in 2006, the original lineup of Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards), Paul Humphreys (vocals, keyboards), Martin Cooper (keyboards, saxophone), and Malcolm Holmes (drums, percussion) has since reinvigorated the band, actively touring once again. In September 2010, O.M.D. released its 11th studio album, History of Modern, 14 years after the last one. It retains the trademark musical elements of the band—infectious melodies, use of synthesizers, and the distinct vocals. My instant favorites are “New Babies: New Toys,” “History of Modern (part I),” and “Sister Marie Says.”
The rest of O.M.D.’s discography, plus my favorite song from each: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, 1980 (“Electricity”); Organisation, 1980 (“Enola Gay”); Architecture & Morality, 1981 (“Souvenir”); Dazzle Ships, 1983 (“Genetic Engineering”); Junk Culture, 1984 (“Talking Loud and Clear”); Crush, 1985 (“Secret”); The Pacific Age, 1986 (“[Forever] Live and Die”); Sugar Tax, 1991 (“Pandora’s Box [It’s a Long, Long Way]”); Liberator, 1993 (“Love and Hate You”); Universal, 1996 (“Very Close to Far Away”).
In this era when handfuls of new artists and hundreds of albums from various genres come out almost on a daily basis, new materials from classic bands are certainly a treat for longtime music enthusiasts.