Monday, November 22, 2010

Souvenir by OMD

I've talked a bit about what I like about OMD already, but "Souvenir" is one of the songs that most encapsulates their strengths in one, three minute byte. From their early CD Architecture & Morality, it showcased their wistful, ethereal, dreamy side, before they developed a more cynical pop structure and sound.

I read an interview of McClusky and Humphries, the two creative heads behind OMD's sound, and interestingly enough, they speak of that more commercial sound as an unhappy time for them, musically at least. Humphries in particular mentions singing songs that he didn't even necessarily like, but which he felt he had to do to appeal to his audience and generate sales, and because they "owed" it to the audiences or something. This is a little bit ironic, since Architecture & Morality was the most successful album OMD ever pressed, from a commercial point of view, although the follow-up, Dazzle Ships, must have really shaken them with its commercial failure.

This deepening malaise (one of my favorite words, even though I was too young during the Carter years to really remember when it was all the rage) contributed to the split at the end of the 80s between Humphries and McClusky, who oddly enough, remained good friends even as their respective lawyers argued about who was responsible for what, and what the value of the equity in things like the band name were worth and all that.

But, on "Souvenir" we see OMD at their finest, still pushing the envelope, still going in new directions, still happy and excited about creating the future of music. Unlike most OMD songs, Humphries instead of McClusky does the vocals. The band has also expressed disappointment in the video in recent years, since it is open to the possible interpretation that there are homoerotic undertones between the two musicians, which was not their intention at all. That said, the video did get heavy rotation in the early years of OMD, and it remains one of their most recognizeable videos today.

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