‘What does the future sound like?’
‘English Electric’ is the new album from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), the celebrated synth-pop duo from Wirral who pioneered their genre with starkly experimental albums such as ‘Architecture and Morality’ (1981) and ‘Dazzle Ships’ (1983). Hits such as ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Maid of Orleans’ and ‘Souvenir’ propelled them into the stratosphere and helped shape the musical landscape of the eighties. They went on to record for the John Hughes blockbuster movie Pretty in Pink and the hit single ‘If you Leave,’ written in just a day, became a sparkling contribution to the Brat Pack canon. Influenced by Krautrock and Kraftwerk, they signed to Factory Records in 1979 and had their iconic single and album artwork designed by Peter Saville. Now their work provides a touchstone for artists such as The XX, La Roux, The Killers and Arcade Fire collaborator Owen Pallett, who re-worked ‘Dazzle Ships’ with nothing but a violin.
‘English Electric,’ released three years after ‘History of Modern’ (2010) and the bands twelfth album, takes its name from a British industrial manufacturing company and quintessentially reflects OMD’s identity; it has further resonance for Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys as locomotive enthusiasts and self-confessed ‘technology geeks.’ In the eighties alongside bands like Human League, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan, OMD made bold albums, seeking the sounds of the future in a period of quick-fire technological change and the fast approach of a new century. Now, in the future they tried to envisage, ‘English Electric’ reflects on how different the world has turned out to be…