Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Organisation

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If OMD's debut album showed the band could succeed just as well on full-length efforts as singles, Organisation upped the ante even further, situating the band in the enviable position of at once being creative innovators and radio-friendly pop giants. That was shown as much by the astounding lead track and sole single from the album, "Enola Gay." Not merely a great showcase for new member Holmes, whose live-wire drumming took the core electronic beat as a launching point and easily outdid it, "Enola Gay" is a flat-out pop classic -- clever, heartfelt, thrilling, and confident, not to mention catchy and arranged brilliantly. The outrageous use of the atomic bomb scenario -- especially striking given the era's nuclear war fears -- informs the seemingly giddy song with a cut-to-the-quick fear and melancholy, and the result is captivating. Far from being a one-hit wonder, though, Organisation is packed with a number of gems, showing the band's reach and ability continuing to increase. Holmes slots into the band's efforts perfectly, steering away from straightforward time structures while never losing the core dance drive, able to play both powerfully and subtly. McCluskey's singing, his own brand of sweetly wounded soul for a different age and approach, is simply wonderful -- the clattering industrial paranoia of "The Misunderstanding" results in wrenching wails, a moody cover of "The More I See You" results in a deeper-voiced passion. Everything from the winsome claustrophobia of "VCL XI" and the gentle, cool flow on "Statues" to the quirky boulevardier swing of "Motion and Heart" has a part to play. Meanwhile, album closer "Stanlow," inspired by the power plant where McCluskey's father worked, concluded things on a haunting note, murky mechanical beats and a slow, mournful melody leading the beautiful way.

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