For my money, one of the top five acts at the Coachella Valley Music Festival this past April was Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, or OMD. The synthpop band was in top form, performing fresh with the release of its latest album, English Electric. This new album is a little more mellow than the jaunty History of Modern, released in 2010 after the reformation of the classic OMD lineup of vocalist and guitarist Andy McCluskey, keyboardist Paul Humphreys, drummer Malcolm Holmes and keyboardist Martin Cooper.
OMD return to the 9:30 Club to promote their new album on Saturday, July 13. With English Electric, OMD have gone straight back to their love of Kraftwerk, paying homage to the German electronic pioneers in particular on their song “Metroland,” which clearly has influences of Kraftwerk’s “Endless Europe.” The new single “Dresden” recalls some of the very best of OMD’s work like “Enola Gay” and “Joan of Arc.”
McCluskey and company certainly took a different approach to the new album, however, interspersing small interludes of synthy goodness that go back to the future to recall a stylized 1950s outlook on the atomic age. It adds unexpected textures to listening to the album in its entirety — a welcome statement to our current singles-driven society for music appreciation.
But if it’s singles you want, you can have it all with OMD, as they will surely play their ever-popular “If You Leave” from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. They will also remind us that their first release was the sparky “Electricity,” a single put out by Factory Records.
In 2011, I was lucky enough to interview McCluskey in advance of their show at the 9:30 Club that year. The upcoming show this Saturday is a surefire contender for one of the best shows in the city, so you should totally go. (And besides, Savages — another awesome English band — are super soldout at the Rock and Roll Hotel.)
If the awesomeness of OMD weren’t already compelling enough to go, Canadian Diamond Rings is brining his cool synthpop dance numbers to the show as the opening act. His new album, Free Dimensional, is a damn good fusion of New Romantic sensibilities with modern indie pop mechanics. The results are songs like the catchy, dynamic “Runaway Love.” He’s kind of a male counterpart to Robyn.