I’m gonna take us back to 1991 with “Walk Tall,” a minimalistic sunny spot of synth-pop from the U.K.’s pioneering Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Admittedly, I haven’t actually heard this one prior to a couple of days ago. Strange and unusual, considering I’m a fairly big OMD enthusiast. But I’ve also wavered in and out of their long and still running career. I mean, these guys started in ’78, which practically makes them legends of the electronic synth world. Although, I think I tuned out after ’86’s “The Pacific Age,” probably due to the five year gap until “Sugar Tax” was released, which is the album “Walk Tall” hails from.
That said, I’ve sort of “rediscovered” OMD for myself, particularly when they returned in ’10 after a 17 year hiatus, which essentially meant they broke up, then decided to get back together like a lot of oldies are doing these days. I remember a friend caught them at Coachella during one of these “reunion” shows, and couldn’t stop raving about it. Consequently, I tuned back in … which again, I’ve wavered in and out of. But I did manage to see them live a few times during this ongoing second wind. And they were every bit as fantastic as my aforementioned friend raved they were.
So back to “Walk Tall.” This one, and its accompanying album, were obviously passed over in my reacquaintance with their extensive catalogue. I guess I was paying attention to their newer material, as well as the older, classic releases. This one sorta fell in the middle. But no matter … I enjoy the act of discovery, and nothing beats uncovering old material you didn’t know existed, even when its been readily available and right in front of you at the click of a search. Hell, that pretty much sums up indie music, and why there’s so much you’ve never heard … unless Spotify, or a comparable streaming or internet radio service, sees fit to cycle it into one of their playlists based on your listening preferences.
“Walk Tall” is a fairly low-key minimalistic track. But it sounds very much like the classic and quirky synthesizer-based pop from the experimental OMD of old – think “Organisation” or “Architecture and Morality,” for those with familiarity. And if your knowledge is lacking, no worries. Think classy, slick, simplistic feel good vocal-based electronic pop from the early 90s, and you’re all good.
This one’s also very melodic and chill, a step-back in tempo from some of their catchier tunes like “So In Love” or “Locomotion” or “(Forever) Live and Die.” And it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from bouncier and quirkier blasts like “Tesla Girls,” “Enola Gay,” or “Electricity,” the latter of which frontman Andy McCluskey cites as their “fastest” song they’ve ever written, referring, or course, to tempo.
However, “Walk Tall” does follow in the footsteps of a lot of that material. So even if it feels of an earlier age, it also carries an aura of their more popular moments. Yet it never goes full-John Hughes, even though I could picture it in one of his brat pack coming-of-age romantic teen comedies. You might remember “If You Leave” from the iconic “Pretty in Pink.” Again, it’s not quite as upbeat or uptempo. But it does have that spirit, which is probably why it caught my ear in the first place, and consequently, resonates so strongly with my tastes of the day.
Anyway, here it is, a later oldie, or maybe more like a middle oldie, from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Enjoy the simplistic synth stylings of “Walk Tall.”
“Walk Tall” from the 1991 album “Sugar Tax.”