Beginning and ending with covers of "So in Love" by Majestic and Bart & Friends respectively, Pretending to See the Future takes a winsomely indie/synth pop approach, turn of the millennium style, to the back catalog of OMD and comes up with some winners. Those put off by Andy McCluskey's singing or the technology of the time might well find the new versions more accessible, while hardcore fans should get a smile out of the various approaches given to familiar material. Names familiar beyond the low-key Shelflife label world include neo-shoegazers Mahogany, who indulge a sweetly chillier keyboard-led side with a sprightly glide through "Bunker Soldiers," and the Brittle Stars, turning the dreamy "Souvenir" into a new wonder, thanks to a fine lead guitar line, a melancholy string element, and gorgeous female vocals. Another female-led cover -- one of many on the album, an intriguing testimony for the breadth of OMD's appeal -- worth noting is the Acid House Kings' "Almost," bringing out the slow elegance of the original into a beautifully captivating arrangement. OMD's underrated masterpiece Dazzle Ships gets honored with a gently squirrelly take on "Telegraph" by the Autumn Teen Sound, while the most immediately surprising cover is the swinging Beach Boys-circa-Pet Sounds lope by the Inbounds through "Messages." Two other radical revamps include the slightly gooey vocals over Motown beat duet on "If You Leave" by Free Loan Investments and the chic '60s pop slink with slight techno touches Le Coupe brings to "Electricity." Meanwhile, the prize for the most Magnetic Fields-like version goes to Simpatico's take on "Joan of Arc," musically if not vocally, with the warm layering of guitar and keyboards helping to create a fine new version of the stately original. Definite credit has to be given to sleeve designer Andrew Prinz, whose Dazzle Ships-inspired artwork is really a gorgeous treat in and of itself.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett