Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

History of Modern

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A 2005 appearance on a German television program, followed by a tour -- throughout which the original four members performed 1981's Architecture & Morality in its entirety -- culminated in the first OMD album since 1996 (and this particular quartet’s first since 1986). History of Modern, for the most part, sounds like OMD. There are two alarming exceptions: “Sometimes” incorporates turntable scratching and guest vocalist Jennifer John, who interjects with lines from “Motherless Child,” while “Pulse” is oversexed and awkward neo-electro sleaze, full of bedroom whispers, moans, and yearning yelps. Most updates to the group’s sound are natural, though only a handful of the songs -- the placid ballad “New Holy Ground” and the somehow cathartic and pensive “Green” especially -- rate with the earlier material. At its best, History of Modern is to OMD what Secrets is to the Human League: an inspired return from post-punk-turned-synth-pop greats.

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