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Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: History Of Modern (100%)

Perfect pop and cheesy trash sit side by side.

OMD: creators of monumental aural art or flawed 1980s also-rans? The answer’s always depended on which record you’re listening to, but this unexpected 11th album – the “proper” line-up’s first in 24 years – is a dichotomy in itself. Frontman Andy McCluskey has mooted it as a noble successor to 1981’s exquisite Architecture & Morality; in that case, though, what are we to do with a song such as Pulse, which sounds like a lukewarm leftover from his days as the svengali behind Atomic Kitten? Perhaps the best answer is to forgive them for it and luxuriate in all the joys the rest of the album has to offer. There are Mellotron strings, sempiternally perfect pop melodies, anguished epics and Kraftwerk tributes; and while there’s a side order of cheese, it’s always of a refined variety. At 58 minutes it’s lengthy but deservedly so, and tracks such as New Holy Ground are up there with their best. Despite their uneven career, OMD’s music has always mattered enormously. On this evidence, it still does.

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