Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are a band whose love I equate firmly with NCB Radio.
My OMD story started in late 2011, when I was rearranging some of the NCB Radio playlists and had come across their main single from the 1996 album Universal, titled Walking on the Milky Way buried within our overnight playlist at the time.
I instantly fell in love with it; while I had already been aware of Enola Gay and it was a track I liked, a passing love of one song became a full discography curiousity upon listening to Walking on the Milky Way. It helped that the video was on Youtube and I thought that incredible too.
In many ways, Walking on the Milky Way is a track which may just remain one of those hidden gems, for it was also the right song released at the wrong time; because it wasn’t Oasis droning about Wonderwalls or Steps releasing their eurotrash abominations, Radio One wouldn’t play it, and because they wouldn’t play it, Woolworths wouldn’t stock it. That alone was a decision worth the eventual liquidation, even if I miss the pick and mix and probably something else that’ll come to me later).
As I delved into said discography, I was delighted to discover that not only had this band released many, but many terrific tracks in a career also stretching from 1980 to 1996, they had recently reformed and had released the album ‘History of Modern’ in 2010.
From this love of OMD, my fascination into electronic music, synth pop, new wave, kraut rock, call it what you will began – it was how I came across the true majesty of Kraftwerk. That’s for another day.
If the 2010s was the decade that saw the start of the social media fuelled descent into nostalgia, the return of old TV shows, the Cold War and yearning to bring back the “good old days”, it was also the nostalgia that gave some bands the encouragement to start again. Including Steps or Right Said Fred, but the latter are better known for their “alternative” views on Twitter or X or whatever its called this week.
Some returns were dreadful. Some were alright. OMD’s has been incredible. They’ve not just rehashed the old hits for the festival scene like some bands have, but have created new, compelling material that is up there with the material most fondly remembered by their fans.
2013’s English Electric and the 2017 album The Punishment of Luxury were both different, both genuinely excellent listens and it was said that the latter album could have been OMD’s last, had Andy McCluskey not rediscovered the “creative art of boredom” during the coronavirus lockdown.
So, it’s the bat flu we have to thank for the upcoming 2022 album Bauhaus Staircase. If the title track, released as a single with an accompanying Orwellian themed video, is anything to go by, it is going to be a real treat.
I do wonder what track 9, Kleptocracy, might be about, though……