History of Modern

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History of Modern
OMD History of Modern album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released20 September 2010[1]
Bright Antenna
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark chronology
Messages: OMD Greatest Hits
History of Modern
English Electric
Singles from History of Modern
  1. "If You Want It"
    Released: 6 September 2010
  2. "Sister Marie Says"
    Released: 19 November 2010
  3. "History of Modern (Part I)"
    Released: 28 February 2011

History of Modern is the eleventh studio album by British synthpop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). It is their first since 1996, and also the first to feature the classic 4-piece OMD line-up since 1986's The Pacific Age. The record was released in the UK on 20 September 2010, peaking at #28. It was a considerable hit in Germany, reaching #5 – the group's highest chart placing for an LP in that country. The album was released in the US on Bright Antenna on 28 September 2010.[1]

A free download demo track taken from the album, called "Sister Marie Says",[2] was released on 25 November 2009[3] and featured backing vocals from British classical crossover soprano Keedie Babb.[4] The first single from the album, "If You Want It", was released on 6 September 2010.

On 2 March 2011 an EP, History of Modern (Part I) was released containing remixes and B-Sides from History of Modern.[5]

Anticipation and pre-release[edit]

"Sister Marie Says" was part-written in 1981 and later recorded during the sessions for 1993's Liberator album. It was subsequently dropped from this album and did not get its first public airing until the OMD Event in 2005. The track has been revamped for the new album, produced and mixed by Guy Katsav at his London studio. The second track to be played from the album was "History of Modern pt.2". It was aired on 31 May 2010 on BBC 6 Music; the title of the song was revealed on the show's web page a week before the broadcast.

Many of the songs had been written and demoed by Andy McCluskey prior to OMD's official reformation, announced at a fan gathering in April 2005. Contributions by the remaining members were made in between other commitments. "New Holy Ground" was originally written by McCluskey and Paul Humphreys in 2008 as an extra track for an EP which was later shelved. Humphreys also co-wrote "Green" and "History of Modern (Part II)".

Samples are prevalent towards the end of the album. "Pulse" contains a sample from "Pulse" by Brother and Sister, "Bondage of Fate" samples Hannah Peel's "Organ Song", while the closing track "The Right Side?" contains a sample from "Looking Down on London" by fellow Kraftwerk enthusiasts, Komputer.

"Sometimes" features Jennifer John, who provided backing vocals on "Oil For the Lamps of China" and "Promised the World" by The Listening Pool, the band formed in the wake of OMD's original split in 1989 by Paul Humphreys with Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes.

"RFWK" is a homage to childhood heroes Kraftwerk and its initials comprise the first letter of each of the classic 4-piece line-up's forenames (Ralf, Florian, Wolfgang and Karl).

"The Future, The Past and Forever After" began life as "Wheels of Steel", a track originally considered for inclusion on the Sugar Tax album.

In an interview during the show the band confirmed the album would have two tracks named "History of Modern" on it and plans to change the name of one of the songs to "The Big Bang Theory" had apparently been scrapped.[6]

The track "Pulse" features backing vocals by former members of Genie Queen, including Abigail Clancy.

The track "The Right Side" is an overt hommage to Kraftwerk, with the arrangement drawing heavily on the structure employed on their track "Europe Endless".

Bar three tracks, the album was mixed by Mike Crossey, who has worked for the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foals and Razorlight.

Digital download and CD releases in certain countries feature the bonus track "Save Me", a mash-up of OMD's "Messages" and Aretha Franklin's "Save Me".

Special edition box sets of the album will also include a double vinyl LP, a DVD book pack and a CD of album demo tracks.


The artwork for History of Modern was conceived by Peter Saville[7] and designed by Four23. The title was thought of by lead singer Andy McCluskey after he took his daughter to an art exhibition called 'The History of Modernism'.[2]


"If You Want It" was released as the first single on 6 September 2010. It was their first single since 1996's "Universal". In October, "Sister Marie Says" was announced as the album's second single, and was released on 19 November 2010. The third single, "History of Modern (Part I)" was remixed in radio and extended forms, and was released on 28 February 2011.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[9]
The A.V. Club(C+)[10]
London Evening Standard4/5 stars[12]
Mojo3/5 stars[13]
musicOMH3.5/5 stars[14]
Q4/5 stars[16]

History of Modern received generally favourable reviews.[18] An enthusiastic John Aizlewood in the London Evening Standard wrote: "Kudos is [OMD's] again. History of Modern breaks little new ground but since it restates the old with such expertly crafted joy, it's not a problem."[12] The review in Q was also positive, noting that OMD's "winning way with a rattling pop tune is timeless" and that the record "refines their sound and gives it a modern production tweak".[16] A mildly positive AllMusic review by Andy Kellman concluded with: "At its best, History of Modern is to OMD what Secrets is to The Human League: an inspired return from post-punk-turned-synth-pop greats."[9] Conversely, BBC reviewer John Doran was unimpressed, stating: "A few highs aside, this is a poor return from the 80s hit-makers...it's not too late for OMD to stride all the way back to greatness. But this album isn't even a stumble in the right direction."[19]

Track listing[edit]

1."New Babies; New Toys"McCluskey3:52
2."If You Want It"McCluskey/Tracey Carmen4:45
3."History of Modern (Part I)"McCluskey4:41
4."History of Modern (Part II)"Humphreys/McCluskey4:13
7."New Holy Ground"Humphreys/McCluskey3:42
8."The Future, The Past, and Forever After"McCluskey4:52
9."Sister Marie Says"McCluskey4:00
10."Pulse"McCluskey/Remee/Ali Tennant/Mich Hansen/Joseph Belmaati3:42
11."Green"Humphreys/McCluskey/Stuart Kershaw4:17
12."Bondage of Fate"Humphreys/McCluskey/Hannah Peel4:06
13."The Right Side?"McCluskey/Simon Leonard/David Baker8:20
US bonus track
14."Save Me" (Contains vocals by Aretha Franklin from original recording of "Save Me" on Atlantic Records)3:08

B-sides and other tracks[edit]

"Alone" – B-side to digital download and CD versions of "If You Want It" single.
"Idea 1" – B-side to limited edition 7" vinyl single of "If You Want It".
"The Grand Deception" – B-side to CD version of "Sister Marie Says".
"History of Modern, Pt. III & IV" – B-side to limited edition 7" vinyl single of "Sister Marie Says".


Chart performance[edit]

History of Modern reached No. 5 on the German Albums Chart, OMD's highest ever position there. It also cracked the national albums charts of several countries including reaching No. 97 in the Netherlands, No. 63 in Switzerland, No. 36 in Austria and No. 28 in the United Kingdom where it reached No. 3 on the official independent chart as well, remaining 12 weeks in the top 50.[20]


Chart (2010) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[21] 36
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[22] 74
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[23] 97
European Top 100 Albums[24] 18
French Albums (SNEP)[25] 181
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[26] 5
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 63
UK Albums (OCC)[28] 28
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[29] 3


  1. ^ a b c "OMD NEWS : FEBRUARY 2010 – OMD Album Update". Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b Browne, Paul. "INTERVIEW : ANDY McCLUSKEY". www.omd.uk.com. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  3. ^ "OMD NEWS : NOVEMBER 2009". 25 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  4. ^ O'Brien, Jon. "Keedie: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  5. ^ 10" Release of History of Modern (part I) EP at the Bright Antenna shop
  6. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00slsk4/ BBC Website
  7. ^ "OMD NEWS : JANUARY 2010 – History of Modern update". Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  8. ^ Robson, Gregory (22 September 2010). "OMD - History of Modern". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "History of Modern > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  10. ^ Sean, O'Neal (5 October 2010). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: History Of Modern". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  11. ^ Zadeh, Joe (21 September 2010). "OMD - History Of Modern". Clash. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  12. ^ a b Aizlewood, John (17 September 2010). "CDs of the Week". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  13. ^ Wilkinson, Roy (October 2010). "Review: History of Modern". Mojo (203): 100.
  14. ^ Hogwood, Ben (20 September 2010). "OMD – History Of Modern". musicOMH. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  15. ^ Bergstrom, John (30 September 2010). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: History of Modern". PopMatters. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Review: History of Modern". Q (291): 112. October 2010.
  17. ^ Walters, Barry (28 September 2010). "OMD, 'History of Modern'". Spin. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  18. ^ "History of Modern - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Metacritic. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  19. ^ Doran, John (7 September 2010). "BBC – Music – Review of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – History of Modern". BBC. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  20. ^ History of Modern – acharts.com
  21. ^ "Austriancharts.at – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – History of Modern" (in German). Hung Medien.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – History of Modern" (in French). Hung Medien.
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – History of Modern" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  24. ^ http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/european-albums?tag=relcharts/ Chart on Billboard
  25. ^ "Lescharts.com – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – History of Modern". Hung Medien.
  26. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  27. ^ "Swisscharts.com – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – History of Modern". Hung Medien.
  28. ^ October 2010/7502/ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  29. ^ October 2010/131/ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company.

External links[edit]