Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at Grand Central September 16
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — or simply OMD — is Exhibit A in New Wave's final evolutionary leap toward synth-pop.
While many people had only just heard the Sex Pistols two years before OMD released its first single, "Electricity," the song — along with the band, really — was the product of a fermenting synthesizer culture dating back to '60s progressive rock and further developed by '70s genres such as Krautrock and disco as well as avant-garde composers and the ever-experimenting, infinite punk tangents.
Like contemporaries Depeche Mode and Soft Cell, OMD applied its love of manipulable sound waves toward the ultimate goal of pop perfection. The band sourced church organ drones and plucky piano keys once reserved for synthesizer interpretations of classical music, and applied them to radio- and club-friendly pop anthems. The instrumental chorus melody of "Electricity" is right up there with those in New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love."
In 1985, OMD achieved certain canonization in the '80s pop hall of fame for its Pretty in Pink tie-in single, "If You Leave." So if John Hughes and his suburban Middle American sagas epitomized Reagan-era youth culture, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark epitomized the soundtrack.
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