Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Junk Culture (1984)

junk

Produced by Brian Tench and O.M.D
Label – Virgin

OMD were always in grave danger of taking themselves too seriously, and this was self evident on “Junk Culture’s” predecessor “Dazzle Ships”. It was a mess of short wave radio signals, robotic sounds, and East European Radio presentations. The album bombed, and I feel sure this dented the reputation of a band with a massive commercial following. Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys needed to pull rabbits from hats to regain the popular momentum that had been created at the start of the decade, and to a certain extent “Junk Culture” is a much more accessible album, with a number of obvious pop oriented songs, along with their more traditional experimental pieces. The band mainly explore rhythm, particularly reggae and calypso (“Apollo”, “White Trash”, “All Wrapped Up”, which quite honestly sounds really awkward when you consider that they are using drum machines and Fairlights instead of traditional instruments which quite obviously don’t offer the same kind of freedom.

omd

What saves the album from the same kind of disappointment as “Dazzle Ships” are the singles. The fine Electro/Pop “Tesla Girls” with its memorable Synth intro, “Locomotion”, and the almost childlike sweetness of “Talking Loud And Clear”. Although none are as great as their early singles such as “Messages”, “Electricity”, or even “Enola Gay”. they at least show that the band were back on track, and this album paved the way for their American breakthrough single “If You Leave” which was pulled from the “Pretty In Pink” movie soundtrack.

But ultimately, “Junk Culture” finds the band exploring both their own niche, along with a necessity for some commercial sentiment. Neither function is fully satisfied and the album suffers in its dual direction.

6/10

Track Listing
1.”Junk Culture” (Instrumental) – 4:06
2.”Tesla Girls” – 3:51
3.”Locomotion” – 3:53
4.”Apollo” – 3:39
5.”Never Turn Away” – 3:57
6.”Love and Violence” – 4:40
7.”Hard Day” – 5:59
8.”All Wrapped Up” – 4:25
9.”White Trash” – 4:35
10.”Talking Loud and Clear” – 4:20

See also…
Hackskeptic’s 500 Greatest Songs: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Electricity (1979)

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