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Editors’ Notes

History of Modern marked the first time OMD's Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey had recorded together in 24 years, and they defied the odds against them by turning out a record that not only picked up where they left off but was one of 2010’s finest electronic-oriented outings by anyone. Things here kick off in full-throttle fashion with the uptempo, impossibly catchy “New Babies: New Toys,” which manages to fold some rather bleak lyrics into an irresistible, celebratory-sounding groove. “History of Modern, Pt. 1” manages a similar feat, making existentialism sound positively party-friendly. Of course, McCluskey and Humphreys are most famous for bringing melodic balladry into the electro-pop realm (à la “Enola Gay,” "If You Leave,” et al), and that gift doesn’t desert them here. Tunes like “RFWK” (a tip of the hat to primary OMD influence Kraftwerk) duly tug the heartstrings via sweet synth lines and McCluskey’s emotion-packed vocals. History of Modern stands as proof that reunion albums can sometimes exceed expectations.

Customer Reviews

WELL worth the wait for this one!

There's been a recent resurge of electronic music in the past few years and though it's stayed mostly in UK/Europe and hasn't crossed the pond to the states yet, hopefully with this, the first OMD album in 14 years, that will quickly change! 14 years is a long time but founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys have found a way to bridge the gap of time and produce what could arguably be called one of their best albums of their career. Offering a hybrid of new and old sounds, this gem is likely to not only please the long-standing fans but grab a whole new generation who, perhaps unknowingly, have been listening to OMD through influences in bands such as The Killers and LCD Soundsystem.

Opener NEW BABIES:NEW TOYS comes rearing out of the gate with a 'take that' attitude. It's edgier than what many think or remember OMD sounding but easily fits into todays mainstream with its bombastic bass, distorted vocals and heavy, head-bopping beats. It's followed by IF YOU WANT IT, a song written originally by Mr. M. for one of his past girl bands. Filled with a catchy chorus and choral "aws" it works, much in thanks to the retention of his valuable vocal quality at the ripe young age of 51!

HoM PART 1 and 2 are definitely OMD in their "pop hits" area and PART 1 is, in my opinion, OMD at their best. Mr. H.s synths, earlier described as 'call and reply' play well with Mr. M.s addicting melody, laced with lovely harmonies. I challenge anyone to try sitting still for this one!

SOMETIMES is a slower, groovy number with additional vocal samples by Jennifer John to help get across the message of despondent love, while RFWK is one of a couple Kraftwerk-ish songs but rightfully so since it's a tribute to the band and their influences on both Mr. M. and Mr. H. With touching offerings displayed in lyrics "I loved you when I found you, I loved you like a son" draped in synthetic, almost whiny keys, it makes one wonder just where these two would be in life had they not been in the crowd at the Kraftwerk show as teens!

And then there's NEW HOLY GROUND! This is a definite tear-jerker of a song. It begins with the sound of a womans high heels hitting the ground as she paces the floor; an absolutely striking element to the song that repeatedly paints a vivid image to match the songs theme of profound self reflection and renewal. Add in deep, cello-like sounds and an achingly beautiful single key melody, along with vocals that crack with emotion and you've got one of the most moving songs on the album! (Plus the fact that it was created in literally a few hours is just proof of the magic these two can do when in a room together)

THE FUTURE, THE PAST, AND FOREVER AFTER is a quirky little disco ditty the screams Georgio Moroder and could definitely get a dance floor going in both a retro and a modern club. SISTER MARIE SAYS, by Mr. M.s account, was a song shelved way back in the early days for sounding too much like Enola Gay but given new life with modern technology, it's much like the HoMs...good ol' OMD synth pop!

PULSE, ah PULSE...yes well, to put it mildly, it stands out. It's a song that is probably the farthest from OMD than any can be and will cause many (including myself) to blush or drop the jaw because of its, shall I say 'adult' nature. It's filled with deep, seductively breathy vocals from Mr. M. with an almost equally alluring female backing track, all layered over an irrestistable dance beat. What's not to like?! ;o)

After that, the cd takes a slower, more 'back to the beginning' approach. GREEN is in the realm of NHG with its achingly divine melody and lyrical content that gets matched by Mr. H.s captivating instrumentation that includes rippling keys and a steady pound. BONDAGE OF FATE is, in many ways, more enthralling than GREEN or NHG; for some reason it just mesmerizes me. Maybe it's the waltz-like rhythm, or the womans babbling, or the choral sounds...all together it's just wonderful! And THE RIGHT SIDE?, well that is another treasure. Giving one final nod to Kraftwerk, it's plinkering keys and ambient chorals easily make the 8.17 minute song seem to flow by in a smooth, relaxing way.

That leaves us with SAVE ME, a track added onto the American release. It's a mash-up between Aretha Franklins Save Me and OMDs classic Messages and begins with a computerized Messages entrance followed by a voice announcing "electronic, solor music" and that pretty much explains what comes next. Mash-up is a perfect word for this danceable, hip and carelessly fun song.

I rarely find a cd that doesn't have at least one song I don't like on it but can honestly say I like, and in more cases than not, LOVE the songs here. I'm a long-time fan of OMD so was hoping for a cd I could casually enjoy while rejoicing in the fact they even reformed and made an attempt at new music. INSTEAD, I got HoM, an absolutely brilliant piece of work that shows these guys still have it and can stand up to any of their counterparts (and surpass them imho). I think even newcomers to the world of OMD will embrace the caliber of the music on the release. Don't look at this as a 'come back album' from 'an 80's band' because it's so much more than that! It's proof that Mr. M. and Mr. H., who both really never stopped working, can still create wonderous pieces that stand the test of time and conform to the musical world of today while retaining the elements that ARE OMD. And with the addition of remaining original members Mal Holmes and Martin Cooper and talks of possibly yet another album to follow, I hope to say thses guys are here to stay! A definite 5 stars, A+ from me. Welcome back boys!!!

Amazing album - easily one of their best

When I heard this new album was going to include all four original members, I wasn't sure what to expect. What they've given us is a truly amazing album! What they've achieved with History of Modern is not only a wink to their past, but a foothold into their future. Easily their best album since Architecture and Morality in a sense of the overall soundscape. It's a return to form. It's a collective example of how a band can use the sounds they've created over the years and breathe new life into them.

Songs like "HOM Part 1", "The Right Side" and "New Babies : New Toys" are absolutely euphoric and beyond anything I'd dreamed imaginable after so many years. Catchy and unforgettable, the songs here are also the best produced I've heard from OMD - the production is flawless. Knowing that History of Modern is THIS good, makes me all the more excited as to what the follow up will sound like, as surely this can't be their last album. I'm hoping in many ways this is a new beginning.

Synthpop pioneers at the top of their game!

As a long-time fan since the days of Organisation, I personally find this to be the best collection of work by Andy and Paul since Architecture and Morality, and I actually find it more consistently listenable than anything they've ever done. There are some tracks I like better than others (HOM Pt.1 and NBNT are standouts) but I really enjoy listening to them all, and there are few albums I can say that about. FANTASTIC return to form! I look forward to more from OMD and hope they will tour the US again at some point.

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Pop

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

Featuring the core members Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey, the Liverpudlian synth pop group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark formed in the late '70s. Humphreys and McCluskey began performing together in school, playing in the bands VCL XI, Hitlerz Underpantz, and the Id. After the Id split in 1978, McCluskey was with Dalek I Love You for a brief time. Once he left Dalek, he joined with Humphreys and Paul Collister to form Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The group released its first single,...
Full Bio