Once it was said OMD committed what many media people regarded as commercial suicide with the release of their third record ‘Dazzle Ships‘. It was full of strange looped soundtracks and not enough chart potential tracks in the eyes of the label compared to the previous album. Thirty years on that’s all been re-appraised by the music media and public as a work of genius. That album for me has stood the test of time and their tour supporting it was probably their finest shows to date. Why do I mention this old album? ‘English Electric‘ has used a similar format and likewise there’s still plenty of music on this disc to enjoy.
The album begins with one of those soundtracks entitled ‘Please Remain Seated‘ which informs us that “..the future has been cancelled“. This leads sweetly into the lead single off the album ‘Metroland‘ which is probably the closest the band has come to copying their idols Kraftwerk circa ‘Trans-Europe Express‘. Weighing at just over seven and a half minutes this shows everything good about the band; rhythm, smooth vocals and those famous electronic backing vocal harmonies. ‘Night Cafe‘ follows and this could easily be another single, a laid back track with an excellent hook synth line announcing the chorus.
Whispering the title ‘The Future Will Be Silent‘ announces its arrival, another looped track which has a hypnotic beat to it. I can see DJ’s having a field day remixing this for the dance floor. The band do like their historic female heroes and with ‘Helen Of Troy‘ they have yielded another gem of a tune. Andy’s strained vocals ring out “...I can’t cry never again” and you want to believe his sincerity. ‘Our System‘ starts off slowly with a gentle vocal delivery and then suddenly Malcolm’s crashing drums and a heavenly chorus sound brings the song to a fizzing climax.
‘Kissing The Machine‘, does sound a lot like ‘Neon Lights‘, which is not surprising when you find that Karl Bartos co-wrote it. Andy voices, “…she steals your soul”, that’s how this love song captivates you. ‘Decimal‘ the next looped track is particularly reminiscent of Laurie Anderson’s ‘Oh Superman‘. Full of life is the best way to sum up ‘Stay With Me‘, which has that typical Paul Humphrey’s keyboard sound that is OMD‘s trademark. You can picture the audience at the forthcoming shows singing whole heartedly along with the chorus.
Probably the fastest and punchiest track has to be ‘Dresden‘ destined I’m sure to be another live favourite. Here you can hear Andy’s bass to its best effect and we certainly “..can’t live without you now“. The first piece of music the band let the world hear from the album was ‘Atomic Ranch‘ the final looped track is next up. Fittingly the album ends with ‘The Final Song‘ a slow ballad done in their own unique way. “Singing it in the dark when the crowd have gone are the empty words of the final song“, we hear and yes by all accounts we’ll be singing many of theses songs for years to come. We were asked to remain seated at the beginning of this collection of songs, something that you’ll find almost impossible to do. 9/10 a continuation of aural wonders.