On OMD’s first studio album in 14 years — and their first album featuring their original lineup in 24 years, the band immediately head back to their classic sound with “New Babies/New Toys.” The only difference is that everything sounds a bit harder, and frontman Andy McCluskey’s voice is stronger than ever. What is created is a great collection of modern pop songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on today’s mainstream radio.

 

The biggest question that some people may ask is if this record sounds more like Enola Gay-era Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or If You Leave-era OMD, and the answer is a combination of both. The title track, divided into two parts, definitely sounds like late ’80s-era OMD; and while some people may not like that era of the band, there’s enough here to satisfy all types of fans. Of the two parts, “Part I” is the most exciting because of its lyrics and melodies. Unfortunately, about halfway through, the album comes to a screeching halt with “Sometimes,” which contains annoying female backing vocals and DJ scratching in the background. Its absolute nadir is “Pulse,” which sounds like a song that McCluskey wrote in 2000 for Atomic Kitten.

The album comes back on track with “RFWK,” a song bolstered by beautiful vocals from McCluskey, and is followed by the stark, bare “New Holy Ground,” which wins for top song on the record, due to its quiet nature and the brevity of the lyrics. If you’re an old school OMD fan looking for a throwback, then look no further than “The Future, The Past And Forever” and “Sister Mary Says”; these two songs contain great vocals and ’80s keyboards without sounding dated at all. This is a relief for a band celebrating their thirtieth anniversary.

Without a doubt, the weirdest track is “Save Me,” a U.S.-only bonus track, and the first
single; it is a mash-up of an Aretha Franklin song with OMD music — an interesting experiment, but it doesn’t sound like real OMD. Overall, a really great comeback record and an excellent pop record, ’80s or otherwise.

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