ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK : THE PACIFIC AGE
Label : Virgin Records
Length : 40:03
Released : September 29, 1986
Review (AllMusic) : The Pacific Age is the last OMD album to feature founding member Paul Humphreys (although The Best of OMD does collect a pair of subsequent singles). With producer Stephen Hague returning and guests Graham and Martin Weir elevated to full-time members, OMD aggressively targets the American pop market cultivated with Crush and the Top Ten single "If You Leave." With the Weir's horns and a trio of female backing vocalists, the music on The Pacific Age sounds larger than life (the opening "Stay" in particular), a trait common to popular music in the mid-'80s. The added production value and better material represent an improvement over Crush, despite the opinion of some that The Pacific Age is a bland sellout. It's true that tracks like "(Forever) Live and Die," "Shame," and "Goddess of Love" are more style than substance, but it's a style that plays to OMD's mastery of melody and mood. The album follows the familiar trend of alternating tracks sung by Andy McCluskey and Humphreys, which effectively shifts the mood from energetic to understated often enough that the material feels fresher than it might otherwise. On the quieter tracks - "Dead Girls" and "The Pacific Age" - the ghost of their earlier work reappears. The band also continues to string snippets of sound together to create interesting patterns; nothing on here is as jarring as the experimental Dazzle Ships, and tapping into Martin Luther King's legacy on "Southern" might be overreaching the limited range of pop, but the band does bring their technical skill to bear on a few cuts. If their last album was a halfhearted attempt to court commercial tastes, The Pacific Age benefits from its wholehearted pursuit of the same.