Soundtrack is the first new Modern English album in 14 years and it is easily their best since the classic After the Snow album from 1982. Robbie Grey (vocals) had been recording tracks with various musicians over the years but there was no timetable for a release. When four of the original members began discussing reuniting for a North American tour this summer, it proved the perfect time to put it out. They also reunited with famed producer Hugh Jones who was on board for their classic ‘80s albums.
Lead track "It’s O.K." is about as close as they get to an actual pop song. It’s more like a post-punk-pop song and there is nothing about it on the rest of the album that will remind people of their enduring hit "I Melt With You". After that, things take a turn into a darker, introspective area where Grey’s lyrics reflect on life, betrayal, and failure. They conjure up some of the themes from their debut, Mesh and Lace (1981), but from a perspective of having 29 years of living in-between.
Track two, "Blister" starts with a chuckle before Grey starts singing lines like "You murdered everything" and that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Some of the lyrical themes are bleak, but they fit the music so well. It is far from a depressive album, and in a sense, it could be compared to The Cure’s Disintegration. "Bomb" has an almost sing-along chorus of "Put the gun in my mouth / Bomb like I never have". The centerpiece is the title track, a lovely reflective song with its washes of synthesizer before breaking into a wall of feedback near the ending.
Soundtrack should help Modern English pick up a new audience who only know "I Melt With You", but it should also bring back the longtime fans that loved their beautifully dark early ‘80s releases. For all the years it took to make Soundtrack, it sounds very cohesive. Grey sings "soundtrack to a life" and that’s what this record is. It sounds like all the reflection has paid off and it’s good to have Modern English back.