I am pretty sure my first encounter with the existence of OneTwo spells Martin Gore. Rumours kept floating around, several years ago, that Gore supplied some guitar melodies for a song called “Cloud 9", sung by Propaganda legend Claudia Brücken. I did not realise at the time that OMD’s Paul Humphreys, one of the electronic pop movement’s most under-rated musicians, was a part of the OneTwo lineup until their “Item” EP was released in 2004.
I went into “Instead” hoping for something vital and vibrant, attributes rarely heard when eighties pop stars return to the spotlight, and I got it. The Humphreys/Brücken combo has squeezed pure ear candy from their machines, forging ahead seemingly unaware and uninfluenced by past stardom. “Instead” is no club staple, but it cunningly builds on foundations laid by both OMD and Propaganda. The stale grandeur of the latter blends well with the pop atmospheres of the former, creating a unique, rich sounding project. Fast or slow, this is an album charged with quality and catchy hooks.
Seeing Paul Humphreys back in business in such a vital musical environment is indeed a pleasure to witness. I just wished he would take the step up to the microphone more often, as his brittle vocals radiate emotion. I have always had a special place in my heart for the OMD songs sung by Humphreys, especially “Souvenir”, an all time favourite and the simplistic “Promise” from the “Organisation” album. On “Instead”, this happens only once, in the ballad “I Don’t Blame You”.
It took me a while to get into Propaganda and their industrial pop machine, but I have always liked Claudia Brücken’s power and it is showcased well on this, the evenly great, debut album by a constellation to watch out for in the future. Suddenly, a new OMD album on the horizon does not seem so scary anymore.