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Album Review

While not the most prolific of bands (this is only their seventh full-length in a 30-year career), Modern English has continually offered up something a little different and unexpected but always worthwhile. Even the much-maligned Stop Start album from 1986 has plenty of glorious moments buried beneath the (over) production. Their iconic 1982 hit, "I Melt with You," is one of the truly defining musical moments of the ‘80s, yet Modern English have remained outsiders, which allows them the freedom to create new music on their own terms. Their last album, Everything Is Mad (1996), may have strayed a little too far away from the band's musical origins, but that's to be expected from a band who doesn't usually travel the same road twice. With Soundtrack, Modern English have repaved a few of those old roads while still moving forward, which is a feat not many veteran bands have been able to pull off. Roping in producer Hugh Jones was a brilliant move since he was the man responsible for their hit albums After the Snow (1982) and Ricochet Days (1984). On Soundtrack, which the band recorded in 2001, Robbie Grey and the boys sound revitalized and focused, offering up an album that sounds thoroughly modern yet righteously retro. Soundtrack is raw and dark where it needs to be, gentle and reassuring where it wants to be, and straightforward and melodic from beginning to end. It's rough, playful, thoughtful, and brooding. Soundtrack is the sound of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. While not as tribal and dark as After the Snow, the band has managed to create an album that will satisfy longtime fans and even attract a new generation of listeners. From the album's opener, "It's OK" (which would have been a great follow-up to "I Melt with You") to the moody, Pink Floyd-ian closer "Fin," Soundtrack is an album that may not slap you across the face on first listen, but it will bury its hooks deep in the your brain by the third spin. Highlights like "Blister," "Here Comes the Failure," and "Up Here in the Brain" make this an album that is more than worthy of repeated listenings. While the band has continued to evolve over the years, Soundtrack is both a bold step forward and marvelous return to form.


Formed: 1979 in Colchester, Essex, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The summery hooks and warm lyrics of "I Melt with You" gave listeners the impression that Modern English were an upbeat pop act, but the single, first released in 1982, was actually an anomaly in the band's early discography. Formed in Colchester, England in 1979, Modern English were originally a punk group called the Lepers. Featuring Robbie Grey (vocals, guitar), Gary McDowell (guitar), and Richard Brown (drums), the Lepers performed mainly at parties. After Mick Conroy (bass) and Stephen Walker...
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Soundtrack, Modern English
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