THERE are two ways to make a successful comeback. The first – the Take That – is to be indisputably better than you were first time around. The second – the David Bowie – requires both national treasure status and an LP on a par with your best work.
>Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey faced a thorny issue with their second album since reforming in 2007. They were going to struggle to better 1981’s much-vaunted Architecture and Morality or the later more commercial likes of 1991’s Sugar Tax and – crucially – have a pretty much flawless greatest hits (1988’s The Best of OMD) still freely available.
What, then, can they offer in 2013? Electronic pop has never been more a la mode since the Wirralians’ 1980s salad days, so the climate could not be balmier for their return.
On first hearing English Electric, it seemed destined for the same fate as its predecessor, 2010’s History of Modern, which clambered to Number 28 in the UK charts before bidding its goodbyes. EE had the odd tune which hit the lofty heights of their classic early work, but the album as a whole seemed unlikely to win over any new converts.
That may still be the case – the band is neither young nor exciting enough to touch anybody under 30 these days – but, as you would tell an errant child, they are the ones missing out. English Electric takes a few listens to reveal its pleasures but it’s time worth investing.
There have always been several OMDs. The weird, experimental duo who represented Merseyside in the electronic new wave revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s (Electricity, Messages, Joan of Arc), the quieter, more reflective artists (Enola Gay, Souvenir) and the massively commercial pop act who kept up with Duran Duran and Culture Club in the mid-1980s (Tesla Girls, If You Leave).
All three are present and correct on EE. They’ve never been afraid to revisit their past for inspiration and you won’t be able to stop singing Souvenir after hearing Stay With Me, but that doesn’t make it any less a terrific, warm love song. Kissing the Machine will surely be a single soon and, along with the seven-minute Metroland, will grace any future best of.
Dresden you may already know – it has been all over Radio 2 these past weeks – and is more redolent of Sailing on the Seven Seas-style OMD.
>English Electric may not be an instant classic but it certainly rewards patience. If you like OMD, go buy.
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