Gina Arnold
June 14, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sugar Tax

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B

Britain’s Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, commonly known as OMD, have always been able to create the illusion that their light, pretty dance-pop was easier done than said. But there has always been more to their chirpy tunes and incessant dance beats than meets the ear. Underneath the unrelenting optimism of their songs are subtly dark lyrics about the modern world and, as the title of one album austerely put it, ”Architecture & Morality.” Unfortunately, on their ninth album, Sugar Tax, OMD’s double-edge has become a bit blunt. Their melodies are as buoyant and frothy as ever, but the band is now content with banal lyrics about lost love. Still, OMD have never been afraid of combining naked emotion with their cold techno-mechanics, and it’s this emotion — exhibited in lead singer Andy McClusky’s sobbing, soaring vocals — that redeems their take on the otherwise fairly vacant dance-pop genre. That’s particularly noticeable on a lovely version of Kraftwerk’s elegaic ”Neon Lights,” which OMD recreates with a stunning lightness of touch; it alone is almost worth the price of admission. B

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